Study: Animal-rich protein diet may be as harmful as smoking - Dallas News |

Study: Animal-rich protein diet may be as harmful as smoking

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A new study proposes that a diet rich in animal protein could be as harmful to your health as smoking.

The study, conducted by The Guardian, throws doubt on the long-term health effects of the popular Atkins and Paleo diets that are rich in protein.

People under the age of 65 who eat a lot of meat, eggs and dairy are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes, the study suggests.

It recommends that people eat a low-protein diet until old age when they start to lose weight and become frail, and then boost the body's protein intake to stay healthy.

The overall harmful effects seen in the study were almost completely wiped out when the protein came from plant sources, such as beans and legumes. However, cancer risk was still three times as high in middle-aged people who ate a protein-rich diet, compared to those on a low-protein diet.

People who took part in the study consumed an average of 1,823 calories a day, with 51 percent coming from carbohydrates, 33 percent from fat, and 16 percent from protein, of which two thirds was animal protein.

"I would urge general caution over observational studies, and particularly when looking at diet, given the difficulties of disentangling one nutrient or dietary component from another. You can get an association that might have some causal linkage or might not," said Peter Emery, head of nutrition and dietetics at King's College London.

Gunter Kuhnle, a food nutrition scientist at Reading University, said it was wrong "and potentially even dangerous" to compare the effects of smoking with the effects of meat and cheese.

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