Every so often, consumers are warned about the risks of eating a high carb diet, followed by the risks of eating a high protein diet. Though one would assume that a diet based on moderation would be healthier, a new study suggest that a high protein diet can increase the risk if cancer, to the point that it is more dangerous than smoking. Researchers at the Longevity Institute suggest that a low protein is best, during the middle years, to increase longevity.
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) looked at a selection of data for 6,381 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. The data spanned two decades and showed that people are four times more likely to die of cancer if they followed a high protein diet. This confirms previous findings of the growth hormone IGF-1, which is needed for growth and development early in life, but not as much during the middle ages.
The study was published in Cell Metabolism. The authors of the study claim that 74 percent of the participants who followed a high protein diet were more likely to die earlier than those who followed a low protein diet. They also found that cancer was not the only risk for eating too much protein. It was also the cause of death from diabetes.
They found that high protein diets are not only ones to cause a higher risk for cancer. In fact, moderate protein intake also causes illnesses. A low protein diet is recommended for middle-aged adults. Only in older adults, over the age of 65, is a high protein diet helpful. It turns out that as people age, they produce less of the growth hormone, lose weight and lose muscle mass. Consuming more protein later in life can help offset these changes and maintain strength.
Paleo and Atkins diets are misleading, letting consumers think they are eating healthy by following a high-protein diet. What this research shows is that, while these diets may provide temporary weight loss, they are not good in terms of overall health and longevity. In fact, they suggest that consumers only have .02 ounces of protein per pound of body weight. So a 200 pound person can eat the equivalent of two pieces of chicken per day and stay within the low protein recommendation.
A co-author of the study, Vance Longo, states that many Americans eat double the amount of protein that they actually need. He warns not to go to extremes, however, and cut out so much protein that they get malnourished or lose muscle mass.
“We saw a big difference with low protein intake and reduction in overall mortality, cancer and diabetes,” Longo said. He and his team also studied mice and the effect of a low protein diet. They found it protected the mice from both melanoma and breast cancer. The low IGF-1 “protects against DNA damage,” Longo said.
Continually following a high protein diet can have detrimental effects. It puts people at a higher risk for cancer than smokers and shortens their lifespan.
By Tracy Rose