Objectives: To directly evaluate whether a population, many of whom are vegetarian or near vegetarian, does experience less coronary heart disease (CHD).
Methods: Two concurrent California observational studies,one with unusual dietary habits, are compared. Similar diagnostic criteria were used in both the Adventist Health Study and the Stanford Five-City Project.
Results: Age-standardized rate ratios (Adventist/Stanford study) for first event fatal CHD were 0.59 (95% confidence interval,0.43-0.80) in men and 0.49(0.32-0.76) in women. Similar ratios for first event myocardial infarction were 0.60(0.47-0.78) and 0.46 (0.33-0.65). Ratios are usually much lower at younger ages or when comparisons include only vegetarian Adventists.
Conclusion: Lifestyle factors can markedly change the first-event CHD experience of whole populations, and appear to especially protect against premature events.