A new study has found that people who consume tofu and other plant-based foods might enjoy a better sex life than meat-eaters.
It’s thought that certain plant products can influence hormone levels and heighten sexual activity.
The research, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, is the first to observe the connection between the so called sex hormones phytoestrogens, found in plants, and behavior in wild primates.
In this case, it was a group of red colobus monkeys in Uganda, but as primates, experts say we humans would likely experience similar effects from the compounds.
The research was carried out by Michael Wasserman, while he was a graduate student at UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.
Over 11 months, Michael Wasserman and his team followed a group of red colobus monkeys in Uganda’s Kibale National Park and recorded what the primates ate.
The researchers focused on aggression, which they measured by the number of chases and fights, the frequency of mating and time spent grooming, and the scientists also collected fecal samples to assess changes in hormone levels.
A new study has found that people who consume tofu and other plant-based foods might enjoy a better sex life than meat-eaters
The researchers found that the more male red colobus monkeys dined on the leaves of Millettia dura, a tropical tree containing estrogen-like compounds, and closely linked to soy, the higher their levels of estradiol, the “sex hormone” and cortisol the “stress hormone”.
They found that with the altered hormone levels the monkeys spent more time having sex, and less time grooming.
Michael Wasserman told Sciencelive: “By altering hormone levels and social behaviors important to reproduction and health, plants may have played a large role in the evolution of primate, including human, biology in ways that have been underappreciated.”
In a separate study Researchers from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, have found that men believe eating meat makes them more manly.
Professor Hank Rothgerber , who has published his research in the journal Men and Masculinity, said that meat eating was linked with “manhood, power, and virility”.
The research comes after the animal rights charity PETA has also insisted that fruit and veg are the key to virility.
The charity maintains that cholesterol in meat, eggs and dairy products can clog our arteries and slow the flow of blood to all the body’s organs – including those that are vital in the bedroom.
Vegan meals, on the other hand, contain none of the animal fat or cholesterol found in meat, eggs and dairy products.
Vegans are also, on average, fitter and slimmer than meat-eaters and less prone to heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity and cancer, the charity claims.
Swedish researchers at Karolinska Institute suggest there is a link between eating processed meat, such as bacon or sausages, and pancreatic cancer.
Researchers said eating an extra 50g of processed meat, approximately one sausage, every day would increase a person’s risk by 19%.
But the chance of developing the rare cancer remains low.
The World Cancer Research Fund suggested the link may be down to obesity.
Eating red and processed meat has already been linked to bowel cancer. As a result the UK government recommended in 2011 that people eat no more than 70g a day.
Prof. Susanna Larsson, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute, said that links to other cancers were “quite controversial”.
She added: “It is known that eating meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer, it’s not so much known about other cancers.”
Swedish researchers at Karolinska Institute suggest there is a link between eating processed meat, such as bacon or sausages, and pancreatic cancer
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, analyzed data from 11 trials and 6,643 patients with pancreatic cancer.
It found that eating processed meat increased the risk of pancreatic cancer. The risk increased by 19% for every 50g someone added to their daily diet. Having an extra 100g would increase the risk by 38%.
Prof. Susanna Larsson said: “Pancreatic cancer has poor survival rates. So as well as diagnosing it early, it’s important to understand what can increase the risk of this disease.”
She recommended that people eat less red meat.
Cancer Research UK said the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in a lifetime was “comparatively small” – one in 77 for men and one in 79 for women.
Sara Hiom, the charity’s information director, said: “The jury is still out as to whether meat is a definite risk factor for pancreatic cancer and more large studies are needed to confirm this, but this new analysis suggests processed meat may be playing a role.”
However, she pointed out that smoking was a much greater risk factor.
The World Cancer Research Fund has advised people to completely avoid processed meat.
Dr. Rachel Thompson, the fund’s deputy head of science, said: “We will be re-examining the factors behind pancreatic cancer later this year as part of our Continuous Update Project, which should tell us more about the relationship between cancer of the pancreas and processed meat.
“There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of pancreatic cancer and this study may be an early indication of another factor behind the disease.
“Regardless of this latest research, we have already established a strong link between eating red and processed meat and your chances of developing bowel cancer, which is why WCRF recommends limiting intake of red meat to 500g cooked weight a week and avoid processed meat altogether.”