Better High Protein Diet Risky as Smoking, Study Finds

Published on March 5th, 2014 | by Tanya Sitton

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High Protein Diet Risky as Smoking, Study Finds





High Protein Diet Risky as Smoking, Study Finds

Calling all Atkins, Paleo, and standard American diet eaters — listen up! ‘More animal protein’ does not mean ‘more health and happiness.’ According to a study published Tuesday in Cell Metabolism, people who consume lots of animal protein in their middle years should instead expect it to mean ‘more cancer, diabetes, and premature mortality.’

Research and Results

Researchers found a fourfold increase in rates of cancer deaths among people under age 65 who consumed large amounts of animal protein; that’s an increased mortality risk comparable to that associated with cigarette smoking. If you’re looking for a healthy weight loss plan — or just plain old healthy eating — ‘high protein’ isn’t it!

Study authors gathered data from 6,318 participants over age 50. Average protein consumption was about 16% of daily calories, with about two thirds of that from animal products (meat, eggs, and dairy). The research team divided study subjects in to high, medium, or low protein consumption groups, defining high protein consumption of 20% or more of daily caloric intake.

According to CBS news’ reporting on this study,

‘People who ate high-protein diets were 74 percent more likely to die before the end of the study than those who ate low-protein diets. Decreasing protein consumption from moderate to low levels reduced early mortality risk by 21 percent. The team found that plant-based proteins were not as detrimental to health as animal based proteins.’

Along with the increased risk of early death from all causes, and increased risk of death related to cancer, high-protein-eating participants were several times more likely to die from diabetes. Researchers found evidence that people over age 65 may benefit from a higher-protein diet, but no indicators that animal based protein is required to meet those needs.

For more details of this newly published study, explore here:

The standard American diet typically consists of more than 15% protein, with the vast majority of those calories comprised of animal products. Paleo or Atkins-style fad diets embrace a much higher percentage, up to 25-35% of daily calories or more.

Vegans and vegetarians are continually interrogated about protein, by well-intentioned omnivorous friends and family members — these study results offer the latest confirmation that such concern is not only unwarranted, but completely (and apparently dangerously) misplaced!

Plant Power!

Change always presents challenge; and food is strongly linked to social and cultural myths and norms that can make it even harder to let go of unhealthy habits. But the evidence continues to accumulate: humans simply do not thrive on an animal-filled diet!

Beyond Health

Diets high in animal proteins do more than wreak havoc on human health: choosing a plant-based paradigm lets you opt out of some hideous (and completely optional) violence towards other creatures.

As this new study (re)demonstrates, you don’t need high levels of protein — you don’t need animal protein — to live well, live long, or live happily. Quite the opposite actually, since researchers keep turning up evidence that the animal junk does more harm than good in human bodies.

Life is good, and optional violence isn’t: so why not stick around a while, and subtract some violence from the world while you’re here? In other words: plants, please!

Image credit: photo via Shutterstock.

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About the Author

is an ecovore, veganist, messy chef, green girl, food revolutionary, and general free-thinkin' rabble-rouser. M.S. in a health profession, with strong interests in biology, nutrition, and healthy living - find her on .



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