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New Study Says Too Much Animal Protein Is as Bad as Smoking

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Before you take another bite of that cheeseburger, you may want to check out the latest research that discovered a high-protein diet, especially one rich in animal products, may be as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

The study tracked 6,381 adults for nearly two decades and discovered that high-protein diets that foster quick weight loss, like the Atkins and Paleo diets, were no safer than smoking cigarettes and increased the risk of dying from any cause by 74 percent. If that doesn’t make you want to turn to tofu, the study also discovered the risk of dying from cancer eating a high animal protein diet is more than four times, compared to eating a low-protein diet. And don’t think this research only applies to body builders throwing back whey protein shakes and raw eggs. The study also discovered that people who ate moderate amounts of protein during middle age were still three times more likely to die of cancer than low-protein eaters.

Valter Longo, a professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California and the study’s author said, “There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple. But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive to be 100?”

The results were a little fuzzy in adults over the age of 65, who did not sustain as much harm from high-protein diets, probably due to the loss of muscle mass as we age and a high protein diet’s ability to maintain that muscle. Thomas Ayoob, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said about the research findings, “As such it generates a hypothesis, but we shouldn’t conclude too much without additional clinical research to confirm the results, especially since things seem to flip-flop after age 65.”

Reducing meat and saturated fat in your diet and adding in more plant-based foods will no doubt benefit your health but the animals and the earth will reap the same rewards.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

VIA Healthline

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  • Bethany Sly

    Can you put a link to the study?

    • paul

      This is the study:

      Levine ME, Suarez JA, et al. 2014. Low protein intake is associated with a major reduction in IGF-1, cancer, and overall mortality in the 65 and younger but not older population. Cell Metabolism 19:407-417.

      It is freely available; search for it in Google Scholar.

  • michaelturton

    Cmon. Atkins and Paleo are not high protein diets. So much for this report.

  • Anonymous

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A small step up from eating mini chocolates directly from the box.


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