Health Topics

  1. #
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. D
  6. E
  7. F
  8. G
  9. H
  10. I
  11. J
  12. K
  13. L
  14. M
  15. N
  16. O
  17. P
  18. Q
  19. R
  20. S
  21. T
  22. U
  23. V
  24. W
  25. X
  26. Y
  27. Z
Browse All Topics

How to Help Prevent Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms

What dietary behaviors may cut the odds of developing of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) in half?

December 27, 2011 |
GD Star Rating


Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Images thanks to CDC/Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr., Bionerd, Ferdinand Schmutzer via Wikimedia Commons, and Jacqui Wise.


Researchers launched a study of more than 3 million people—by far the largest ever to uncover what we can do, other than just not smoking, to reduce our risk of developing an abdominal aortic aneurism in the first place. In terms of diet, apparently the riskiest thing we can do is eat meat.

Eating meat just a few times a month appears to significantly increase our risk, which makes sense. Another name for atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries. That’s what all that cholesterol goop in our arteries can do—harden and stiffen the walls of our aorta, making them less pliable and so instead of just bouncing right back after every heartbeat, your aorta is at risk for stretching bit by bit over time until eventually, you can end up with balloon animal in your gut and then, sometimes, pop goes the weasel.

The most important thing, though, no smoking, which can dramatically increase our risk. Albert Einstein… died of an abdominal aortic aneurism—and he was a vegetarian, but did not start eating healthy until very late in his life and he was also a heavy smoker. So, minimize both smoking and meat eating and maximize fruits and vegetable consumption, and eat nuts every day, the two most powerful dietary behaviors found to reduce one's risk. May cut our odds of developing a abdominal aortic aneurism in half.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by MaryAnn Allison.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out this morning's blog Aortic Aneurysm Prevention and yesterday's "part 1" on abdominal aortic aneurysms in Ticking time balloons.  Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them.  And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Watermelon For Erectile Dysfunction, Aortic aneurysm prevention: Jeff Green and his aorta, and Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Be sure to check out this morning’s blog Aortic Aneurysm Prevention and yesterday’s “part 1″ on abdominal aortic aneurysms in Ticking time balloons. Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

    And check out the associated blog post Aortic aneurysm prevention: Jeff Green and his aorta.

  • alancproctor

    What is the footnote notated by the asteric for the meat section.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I uploaded the entire figure above in the Supplementary Info section, including the caption. Never hesitate to ask me to reproduce or blow-up any graphs or charts or anything featured in my videos. That’s what that Supplementary Info section is made for and I don’t use it enough!

  • john23

    Suppose you were a young adult male, who is highly athletic (exercises every day), has well diversified diet of fruits and vegetables (still eating meat though), would such a lifestyle have a nulling effect if that person were to also smoke cigars every week?
    From watching various videos on your website I have come to the conclusion that smoking(not inhaling, but consider a scenario of a cigarette smoker contrasted with a cigar smoker) wouldn’t be nearly as big problem as any potentially harmful effects would just be muted by the extremely healthy life style the person was living. Or am I wrong to suppose that?

  • laustin

    Dr. Greger, could you say something about CoQ10, a coenzyme supposedly helpful in combating some diseases of the elder? Would you recommend it as a general supplement?

  • johnduda

    Dr. Greger, I think it is important to point out that in this study, as with most population-based dietary studies, the threshold for consumption of fruits and vegetables is often absurdly low. The benefit in the risk of AAAs was found for those consuming fruit, vegetable and nuts more than three times per week and all you had to do to get the 50% reduction was eat either daily! There is no way to know how much more benefit a vegetarian or vegan diet might provide.

    PS. I really enjoy your website and appreciate all the work you do to put it together

  • wickedchicken

    So eating meat 2 to 4 times per month was worse for your risk than eating fast food every day? Hmm, questionable!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please also check out my associated blog post Watermelon for Erectile Dysfunction!

  • Amir

    so a patient with marfan syndrome should go vegan?

  • nancy martin

    was is it about the smoking?



    • Richard Frazee

      1.3 cm, WOW, you should feel really good! My doctor called me the other day and told me that he read my ultra-sound and mine is a tiny 5.5 cm. He wants to cut me open A.S.A.P. or sometime right after the first of the new year.