Animal protein as bad as smoking?!

On March 4th 2014, articles started to appear on line. “Animal protein-rich diets could be as harmful to health as smoking” said the Guardian. The Daily Mail captured the age dimension more accurately with “Eating lots of meat and cheese in middle age is ‘as deadly as SMOKING‘”.

The source of the media headlines is this article in Cell Metabolism. The full article is available on free view.

The Study

The study reviewed data for 6,381 adults aged 50 and over (average age 65) using American public health data (NHANES III). The participants were followed for up to 18 years, giving 83,308 person years worth of data.

Average calorie intake was reported as 1,823 per day (which already suggests under-reporting). This was 51% carbohydrate (by calorie intake); 33% fat intake and 16% protein intake. Most of this protein intake (11 of the 16%) was reported as protein from animal sources.

Instead of dividing the people into three equal groups, the percentage of calorie intake in the form of protein was used to allocate subjects to one of three groups:

–      High protein intake was categorised as more than 20% of calories from protein (1,146 people);

–      Moderate protein intake was categorised as 10-19% of calories from protein (4,798 people);

–      Low protein intake was categorised as fewer than 10% of calories from protein (437 people).

This is interesting in itself. Normally groups are divided so that equal numbers of people fall into each group. The most common grouping used is tertiles (3 groups), quartiles (4 groups) or quintiles (5 groups). If subjects had been divided into tertiles, 2,127 people would have been in each of the 3 groups and the percentage of protein would have been the outcome – not the input (e.g. we may have found that one third of people had protein intake lower than 14% of calories; one third had protein intake between 14-18% and the final third had protein intake higher than 18%). The method used here is not wrong, but we are not comparing equal groups and this will have a difference when relative risk comes into play – as it will.

Association between protein and mortality

This is a direct quotation from the article (my emphasis): “Using Cox Proportional Hazard models, we found that high and moderate protein consumption were positively associated with diabetes-related mortality, but not associated with all-cause, CVD [cardiovascular], or cancer mortality when subjects at all the ages above 50 were considered.”

i.e. when we looked at the 6,381 over 50 year olds there was not even an association with protein intake and all-cause mortality, or CVD mortality, or cancer mortality.

There was a relationship with diabetes mortality and protein intake, but the numbers were so tiny (one death from diabetes in one group) that this was not considered important.

And that could have been the headline – “There is no association between protein intake and mortality” – but then there would be no headline.

After finding no overall association, the researchers spotted a pattern with age and split the information into participants aged 50-65 and participants over 65. They then found (direct quotation again): “Among those ages 50–65, higher protein levels were linked to significantly increased risks of all-cause and cancer mortality. In this age range, subjects in the high protein group had a 74% increase in their relative risk of all-cause mortality (HR: 1.74; 95% CI: 1.02–2.97) and were more than four times as likely to die of cancer (HR: 4.33; 95% CI: 1.96–9.56) when compared to those in the low protein group.”

This means that there was an equal and opposite result for the over 65 group. If all the participants together showed no association and one section of the group are then separated out to show a positive association, the remaining section of the group must have a negative association. That’s the law of averages. Sure enough, the 3,342 people over the age of 65 were far less likely to die from any cause if they were in the moderate or high protein intake group. Cancer mortality for the low protein group was two and a half times the cancer mortality for the high protein group.

Cardiovascular (CVD) mortality was about the same for the high protein group and the low protein group for the 50-65 year olds. CVD mortality was then much lower for the moderate protein intake group than for the low protein intake group for 50-65 year olds. For the over 65 year olds, the highest protein intake group was the best one to be in for all-cause mortality, cancer mortality and CVD mortality.

The fact that the headlines chose to claim “protein will kill you in middle age” rather than “protein will save you in old age” just highlights the nonsense and bias.

The usual errors

There are two facts that every study fails to clarify:

1) Association does not mean causation (just because we observe singing in the bath, it does not mean that being in the bath causes singing any more than singing causes being in the bath); and

2) Relative risk is a poor measure when absolute risk can be reported instead. (You can double your chance of winning the lottery by buying 2 tickets. Your relative chance is twice as high as it was before. Your absolute chance was 1 in 14 million and is now 2 in 14 million. You’re still not going to win the lottery!)

This study has absolute risk numbers and should share them. There could be 4 deaths in 1,000 people from cancer in the high protein group and 1 death from cancer in the low protein group. This meets the headline “four times as likely to die of cancer”, but it’s hugely different to having a 1 in 1,000 chance of dying vs. a 1 in 250 chance of dying – neither of which is going to lose you any sleep at night. I’ve emailed Dr Longo to ask for the raw data on death rates to see what the absolute risk is. (And  remember – this is still only in the 50-65 age group and will be the other way round in the over 65s).

Protein vs animal protein

The study claims to have adjusted for protein in general vs. animal protein to conclude that animal protein is the harmful factor and not protein per se. Call me suspicious, but I always check for conflicts of interest and the lead researcher, Dr Longo, has declared interests in (actually, he’s the founder of) L-Nutra – a company that makes ProLon™ – an entirely plant based meal replacement product.

So the study would have us believe that animal protein increases cancer mortality in people between the ages of 50 and 65, but then magically reverses this ‘causation’ at 65 such that you’d better be in the high protein group or you’ll be dropping dead like flies. This just doesn’t make sense.

I could go into a discussion of quality animal protein (meat, eggs and dairy from pasture living animals) vs. processed animal protein (fast food burgers with white buns and ketchup, mass produced chickens, low-fat sugared yoghurts) and so on, but this cannot explain why animal protein across all the people surveyed would be allegedly harmful before the age of 65 and protective thereafter. By the way – do eat quality animal produce and don’t eat processed anything (meat or otherwise), but that’s just a general health golden rule. It can’t explain this study.

Of mice, not men

The researchers turn away from John and Jane Doe to Mickey and Minnie Mouse to try to explain the results. Dr Longo is well known for his mice experiments (he was one of the chaps whom Michael Mosley interviewed when he did his Horizon programme on Intermittent Fasting).

The researchers thus did some experiments on mice. They gave some 18 week old male mice a diet with either low (4-7%) or high (18%) protein intakes. (We don’t know if either fat or carbohydrate made up the difference for the different protein intakes). They implanted melanoma cells in Mickey Mice (gave them cancer in effect) and then looked to see how the cancer progressed over the next 39 days, while the mice were fed either high or low protein intakes. Tumour incidence was reported as 100% for the high protein group and 90% for the low protein group after 25 days. The discussion that followed centered around a term you may recall from the Horizon programme – IGF-1 – Insulin-like Growth Factor.

This could have led to the headline – “Male mice given cancer cells get cancer”, but it is being used as an explanation for the observations in the human study. The hypothesis being put forward is that protein intake increases IGF-1 and that IGF-1 helps our bodies grow and it may therefore help cancer to grow. We have not even proven if protein intake determines IGF-1 in humans and therefore the hypothesis falls over at the first hurdle. The theory then suggests that IGF-1 falls with age. So are they then saying that protein over the age of 65 doesn’t impact IGF-1 and doesn’t therefore impact growth or cancer? It still just doesn’t make sense.

The final twist was that the researchers found no significant difference when they gave animal vs. plant protein to mice. So this cannot justify the headlines condemning meat and cheese. Additionally –  bang goes the ProLon™ PR!

What should we take from this?

*      Humans don’t need that much protein. As a rule of thumb we need approximately 1 gram of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight. Body builders and pregnant women may benefit from more, but we don’t need that much.

Having said this, protein has a substantial metabolic advantage over carbohydrate and fat and can help with weight loss as a result[i]. Hence more than 1 gram per kilogram of body weight is not a problem – so long as the intake comes from real food and not from fake shakes.

*      Protein is in virtually every food provided by nature (oils and sucrose being the only two exceptions and they’re not really food). Nature provides fat/protein combinations – meat, fish, eggs, dairy products – and carbohydrate/protein combinations – grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables. Rarely do foods have fat/protein and carb in good measure (nuts and seeds being the exceptions). Why would nature put protein in everything if it were out to get us?

*      This study has made an interesting observation and that’s it. It has not provided a plausible explanation. As for the smoking comparison – this is a stunt to grab headlines – not appropriate for researchers who want to be taken seriously. Smoking presents an absolute risk – provide the same numbers for my grass-grazing roast dinner if that’s what you’re claiming.

*      Should you ditch meat and dairy as a result of this? Not unless you want to deprive yourself of essential fats, complete protein and invaluable quantities of vitamins and minerals. The golden rule of diet remains unchanged and that is – eat real food! This means meat, eggs and dairy from pasture living animals; fish; nuts and seeds; vegetables and fruits in season. Enjoy whole grains and starchy veg only if you are normal weight – limit these fattening foods if not. Red wine and dark chocolate and what more could a man want? Or mouse!

p.s. just had a thought a couple of hours after this was posted. Where are the vast majority of deaths going to be among the 6,381 people who were over 50 when the study started? In the 50-65 year old group or in the 65+ year old group? The latter of course. So, notwithstanding that we have no plausible mechanism, the ‘advantage’ of animal protein is thankfully in the group that will benefit most! Looking forward to the raw data


[i] Eric Jequier, Institute of Physiology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, found that the thermic effect of nutrients (thermogenesis) is approximately 6-8% for carbohydrate, 2-3% for fat and 25-30% for protein. I.e. approximately 6-8% of the calories consumed in the form of carbohydrate are used up in digesting the carbohydrate and turning it into fuel available to be used by the body. In contrast, 25-30% of the calories consumed in the form of protein are used up in digesting the protein and turning it into fuel available to be used by the body. (Eric Jequier, “Pathways to Obesity”, International Journal of Obesity, (2002).)

Zoë Harcombe

99 thoughts on “Animal protein as bad as smoking?!

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  • avatar
    February 26, 2017 at 3:09 pm
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    This article should probably be updated and showcased again, as Dr. Longo is again doing stunt science with ‘we can reverse diabetes’ headlines everywhere (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39070183).

    In point of fact, as Dr. Harcombe ably points out, the situation is a lot more complex then ‘go vegan’. I’m a type 2 diabetic. At one point I was on 3 different medications, 2 oral and 1 injection based, to get my BS to normal levels.

    The only thing that got me off the ‘add-a-new-drug’ carousel, that has become the default approach to diabetes for many doctors, was switching to an very low carb, high fat, high protein, high fiber diet. Two years after starting that, I’ve seen

    – a weight loss of 73 pounds
    – my fasting insulin drop from 210 average to 97
    – Cardiac risk markers (cholesterol, CRP, triglycerides) drop dramatically

    and I’m off *all* drugs. Dr. Longo’s approach, of the fasting/ fat mimicking plant based diet for 5 days, then eat whatever the heck you want for the next 25, would either have me still on meds, or in a morgue.

    Reply
    • avatar
      February 26, 2017 at 6:24 pm
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      Hi Steven – many thanks for the alert. So much to dissect and so little time eh?!
      Best wishes – Zoe
      p.s. fixed your amend :-)

      Reply
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  • avatar
    July 25, 2015 at 10:15 pm
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    “Should you ditch meat and dairy as a result of this? Not unless you want to deprive yourself of essential fats, complete protein and invaluable quantities of vitamins and minerals.”

    Look, there is precisely one essential nutrient that plant foods don’t give you and that’s vitamin B12. But you can supplement that.

    Or even eat cheese now and again. I’m not actually vegan, but I eat a little meat/fish/cheese (usually Roquefort) no more than 4 times a week, sometimes less.

    Why does the “complete protein” myth persist? There are plant foods out there having comparable protein makeup to meat, some even indistinguishable.

    The meatiest protein composition of any foods, one could argue, is Brazil Nuts. I actually avoid them for this reason (although I dislike them anyway).

    “The final twist was that the researchers found no significant difference when they gave animal vs. plant protein to mice. So this cannot justify the headlines condemning meat and cheese. Additionally – bang goes the ProLon™ PR!”

    This is the one thing you say that makes sense actually. Much of the focus on “animal protein restriction” could equally well go for “protein restriction”.

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  • avatar
    July 25, 2015 at 10:01 pm
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    “It still just doesn’t make sense.”

    Actually it does. Protein restriction has shown to activate the proteasome and autophagosome system in many animals, as well as in human cells in the lab.

    Also, it has decreased cancer incidence, and increased lifespan. Study after study after study.

    Restriction of amino acids improves protein homeostasis and lowers mitochondrial membrane potential. Increases uncoupling gene expression, improves insulin sensitivity, lowers levels of IGF-1 and increases tenacity and stress-resistance.

    Tenacious and “ageless” organisms such as Ginkgo Biloba and Naked Mole Rat show very strong proteasome and autophagy.

    In short, they are very good at tidying up after themselves in their cells. This is conjectured to be the reason why Ginkgo Biloba resisted the effects of little boy in Hiroshima, and why Naked Mole Rats don’t get cancer even when slathered in lots of carcinogens.

    Low methionine diets especially, and diets where calories rarely (obviously you need to have some) come from protein, activate proteasome and autophagy.

    This is believed similar to the mechanism of action of the life-extending antidiabetic drug rapamycin. Inhibition of MTOR activates proteasome/autophagy.

    Ginkgo Biloba, and the “miracle sugar” trehalose also activate proteasome/autophagy to deal with mutant huntingtin and accumulation of prions, although the mechanisms are different the end-result is similar.

    Protein and especially methionine are high in meat, fish, cheese, and eggs. Animal products basically. They are also found in high levels in *some* vegan foods, mostly seeds and brazil nuts.

    “We have not even proven if protein intake determines IGF-1 in humans and therefore the hypothesis falls over at the first hurdle”.

    Um, we know this. If you are even questioning that then you simply don’t know very much.

    There is only one reason to eat animal protein – to grow muscle. Methionine and the related cysteine are key drivers of muscle growth.

    But for everything else, antidiabetic, anticancer, antidementa, antidisease, antiaging, low protein, low methionine+cysteine, is better.

    Reply
  • avatar
    March 2, 2015 at 3:35 pm
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    High intake animal protein may leads to some of the severe health issues. Especially in adults they may lead to cancers and tumors.

    Reply
  • avatar
    February 20, 2015 at 5:54 am
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    “Should you ditch meat and dairy as a result of this? Not unless you want to deprive yourself of essential fats, complete protein and invaluable quantities of vitamins and minerals.”

    In comparative studies such as EPIC-Oxford and the Loma Linda Adventist study, vegans fare well – evidence that your assertion is false. The official dietetic associations on three continents also disagree with you.

    By ditching dairy, and meat, you will however, give up trans fats, concentrations of environmental toxins, and high levels of estrogen (since dairy cows are now pregnant and coursing with estrogen during much of their lactation).

    I wouldn’t call dairy a real food. I would call it barbaric. A cow, bred to grossly overproduce milk, is forcibly and repeatedly impregnated (usually by shoving an arm inside her, after semen has been artificially induced from a bull), she has her newborn taken from her, and she’s killed in young adulthood – sometimes after being starved for 24 hours. And the fact that most human adults are lactose-intolerant is nature’s way to tell us to wean. Even calves do that.

    Some processed foods are healthy, such as soy milk and tofu. In a study of 13,000 Seventh Day Adventist men, “Frequent consumption (more than once a day) of soy milk was associated with 70 per cent reduction of the risk of prostate cancer,” according to the study authors. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10189040. The much-studied Okinawan Elders, known for their extreme longevity and low disease rate, get 12 percent of their calories from soy, including lots of tofu. They also eat a high-carb, low protein diet.

    Two areas where we agree: the Daily Mail headline is sensationalist, and using contrived mouse experiments as models of human nutritional requirements is notoriously unreliable.

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  • avatar
    September 2, 2014 at 3:36 pm
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    “Should you ditch meat and dairy as a result of this? Not unless you want to deprive yourself of essential fats, complete protein and invaluable quantities of vitamins and minerals. ”

    Why would ditching meat and dairy result in the loss of these nutrients? You simply replace them with healthy plant-based food.

    The trans-fatty acids in animal products do us harm. The “complete protein” myth was debunked 30+ years ago, and plant-foods are more nutrient dense than animal foods, plus you get the benefits of fiber and phytonutrients, which aren’t found in any animal products.

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    • avatar
      December 8, 2014 at 6:26 pm
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      the % of trans-fatty acids in animals is very small is more than offset by the healthy fats in the animal. proteins/fats from animals are more readily absorbed by the body and don’t contain anti-nutrients (phytates) or nearly as many lectins. it is difficult to get enough fat if you only eat plants.

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    April 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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    I am just so happy that smart people like you are around to dissmantle some of the bullshit that is fed to “regular people” like me :) It’s hard enough to try to get the good to knows out of all the fantastic and good science around what we should eat and not.

    Thank You so much !
    David, Sweden.

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  • avatar
    March 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm
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    Thanks Zoe for tearing this awful study apart, which should never have published and certainly not taken anywhere near a journalist! The authors (and publisher) are at best irresponsible, and the media too for being down right lazy and not asking questions. The end result is misinformation and a more confused public (before I retired as a GP patients were always asking, ‘I can’t eat fat, I can’t eat protein, I can’t eat sugar…what the hell am I supposed to eat??’ (obvious answer…food, real food). Sadly all the time and effort you, and other bloggers/scientists, have dedicated to exposing these untruths will probably not make the headlines.

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  • avatar
    March 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm
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    And yet countries like Spain and Argentina are quite low on those lists for cancer, and they consume a lot of red meat too. My guess is it’s not the red meat after all, but something else causing cancer in Denmark: possibly alcoholism, or lack of vitamin D, or high insulin, or any number of things. Correlation does not equal causation.
    And as for “dangerous compounds” in meat (like PAHs) they are also in carbohydrates like cereal and potato chips, but no one ever talks about that for some reason……

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  • avatar
    March 15, 2014 at 11:04 am
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    Cooked meat contains heterocyclic amines(HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAHs).

    Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cooked-meats

    “-Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when muscle meat, including beef, pork, fish, and poultry, is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame.

    -The formation of HCAs and PAHs is influenced by the type of meat, the cooking time, the cooking temperature, and the cooking method.”

    There is a strong correlation of Denmark’s high grilled red meat consumption with its no.1 ranking for cancer rate in the world.

    I wrote something about red meat consumption and its correlation to cancer a while ago.

    http://thethinktankguideforsmarterliving.blogspot.sg/2014/02/getting-full-dirt-on-denmark-happiest.html

    Grilled red meat shops are popular in Denmark and Denmark has the highest number of meat-cooking grills per capita. This high consumption of red meat correlates with Denmark having the top spot for the rate of cancer for all countries in the world, which seems too high of a direct correlation even if their free medical system allows more people to be detected from the life-threatening disease. The exercise the Danes get from cycling don’t seem to be able to offset the effects of the toxins that come from eating cooked meat.

    (Even a Danish Professor from the Department of Public Health at a Danish University has advised on the cutting down of red meat)
    Barbecue season: cut down on the red meat.
    http://skt.au.dk/en/current/article/artikel/grilltid-skaer-ned-paa-det-roede-koed/

    Cancer rate per 100,000 ranked 1st in the world
    Data for cancer frequency by country
    http://www.wcrf.org/cancer_statistics/cancer_frequency.php

    Why is Denmark the cancer capital of the world?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8277418/Why-is-Denmark-the-cancer-capital-of-the-world.html

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 8, 2014 at 6:39 pm
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      and yet Argentina is one of the beef capitals of the world and yet is one of the lowest on the list. are you suggesting they only eat their beef raw?

      you are really grasping here my friend. correlation does not imply causation. these observational studies have very limited value in predicting causation.

      Reply
  • avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm
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    A correction
    Perhaps a stronger & even more absurd case, not made by the study’s author, is that just an one-time ‘high’ protein consumption within a 24 hour period can increase your risk of cancer if you are age 50 or less but lowers cancer risk at 65 or more.

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  • avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 7:18 pm
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    These researchers took a detailed 24-hour dietary survey of the study groups recorded 18 years ago. From that single survey, these researchers then correlated it to the groups’ health and mortality data 18 years later.
    The assumption is that during the intervening 18 years macro-nutrients intake level basically stayed static. Quite a huge leap.
    Perhaps a stronger & even more absurd case, not made by the study’s author, is that just an one-time ‘high’ protein consumption within a 24 hour period can increase your risk of cancer if you are age 65.
    As always, Zoe, thanks so much for spending time & effort to debunk these studies for us.

    Reply
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  • avatar
    March 13, 2014 at 7:10 pm
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    “2) Relative risk is a poor measure when absolute risk can be reported instead. (You can double your chance of winning the lottery by buying 2 tickets. Your relative chance is twice as high as it was before. Your absolute chance was 1 in 14 million and is now 1 in 7 million. You’re still not going to win the lottery!)”

    Actually, if you buy 1 ticket you have a 1/14m chance of winning the lottery.
    If you buy 2 tickets you have 2, 1/14m chances of winning the lottery.

    Reply
    • avatar
      March 14, 2014 at 8:17 am
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      Many thanks for this – a thincs member spotted it too – amended now!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
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  • avatar
    March 12, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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    Dang, my link didn’t work…I was afraid of that. I guess I don’t know how to post a link onto a comment section of a website, never tried to do it before…..

    Reply
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  • avatar
    March 11, 2014 at 10:13 pm
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    Mie,

    Well, it was not really *my* point about carbohydrate and cancer; I was only quoting what many cancer researchers are now saying. And I feel I must clarify something: I (and they) are not making the claim that carbohydrate *causes* cancer, only that carbohydrate and sugar promote tumor growth in the case of already existing cancer. (To be fair, I may not have made this clear enough in my comment). Any researcher worth his or her salt would not make a bold claim without a heck of a lot of research to back it up, so most cancer researchers admit that we still do not know exactly what *causes* cancer- though many theories abound, and risk factors have been established for certain cancers. (This is partly why I am irritated by the above “20 Cigarettes a Day” article; I find this sensationalist headline misleading and irresponsible). Unfortunately, I erased the link to the lecture I was quoting from, and can’t find it again (and I’ve forgotten what it was called). But if I find it, I’ll be sure to post it.
    But if you want to learn about the cancer/sugar connection, look up the work of Dr. D’Agostino. You can also look up Dr. Thomas Seyfried, who uses a low-carb ketogenic diet to treat cancer- (granted, it’s also protein restricted, as he tries to get blood glucose to a very low level. But it’s even more carbohydrate restricted, due to carbohydrate’s larger effect on blood glucose). If you google high protein/low carbohydrate diet + cancer, you’ll see there were mouse studies done with mice with breast cancer, and those on a low carb/high protein diet had slower tumor growth and lived longer than the mice on a high carb/lower protein diet. I tend to be a bit skeptical about animal studies, but there also seems to be a link in humans between breast, ovarian, and other hormonal cancers and high carbohydrate diets (I’ll find the links if you want). In any case, here’s a link to an article about another researcher I found out about today:

    Jane Macdougall: What does cancer eat? Sugar, mostly, …

    On anther note, I read your comment about protein and people over age 65, but there’s still one thing that’s not clear to me. Basically, you explained that people over 65 need more protein- okay, that’s fine- but that still doesn’t explain specifically why animal protein is suddenly “positive” and no longer “negative”. (As you may recall, the article differentiated between animal and plant protein). My question remains: why would one type of protein be bad at a certain age, but good at another age? I would also like to bring up the point that some plant proteins are hardly benign! Gluten, for instance, is for many people a very toxic substance, and some people also have certain issues with soy and other legumes. I think it’s wrong to make a blanket statement about what kind of protein we all *should* be eating.

    I guess what you said about Weston Price, I could also say about this study, ha ha……

    Reply
  • avatar
    March 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm
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    Thanks very much for this Zoe … the public at large hasn’t a chance of making good nutritional choices with ‘Protein bad as smoking’ type headlines like this. Sad to say, sensational headlines sell.

    Dr Jason Cholewa is as impresed as you are with the study http://jasoncholewa.com/2014/03/05/high-protein-diets-cause-cancer-study-says

    In related vein, Prof Colin Campbell’s The China Study has strongly influenced the thinking of many and as The Power of Placebo (recent BBC Horizon topic) seems to be accepted by med orthodoxy, it may have been helpful … or not.

    In dealing with a prostate health issue (high PSA score) I have tackled it using diet. Twice, over the last six years, I have reduced the PSA level significantly and quickly by eliminating dairy – I am a dairy-loving lacto vegetarian by choice. Even eating recommended A2 raw dairy and avoiding A1 didn’t stop exceeding 11.17 ng/mL. See http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/the-devil-in-the-milk-dr-thomas-cowan-on-how-a2-milk-is-the-answer-to-the-mystery-of-why-even-raw-milk-sometimes-does-not-seem-to-be-enough-of-an-improvement-over-store-bought

    I wish the placebo effect had worked for me! There are so many factors that can influence blood tests, but I am reluctantly avoiding the Waitrose raw French cheese display.

    Reply
  • avatar
    March 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm
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    Lisa

    “I read a lot about cancer, due to personal interest, and the latest research by cancer experts pinpoints sugar and carbohydrates as being the biggest drivers of cancer growth; protein has only a moderate effect, and fat has essentially no effect (so much for the myth that animal fat causes cancer).”

    Feel free to mention a least a couple of studies indicating that carbs per se have major carcinogenic potential. Or define “the biggest drivers”. On parallel with e.g. tobacco?

    “As for Weston Price: I, personally, hold his research in high regard.”

    Feel free to do so. Doesn’t change anything.

    “One can choose what one wants to believe, but I personally find many so-called “scientific” studies of today too limited and reductionist in approach; at least, too reductionist to make any valid conclusions about. There is a synergy in foods and their nutrients which we haven’t even begun to understand, and isolating only one element is bound to be misleading. This is why I have a lot of trouble with many studies, like this one.”

    You’re not barking up the wrong tree there. However, the current opinion in e.g. nutrition has shifted/is shifting towards entire diets instead of isolated elements.

    But but … Isn’t your point about carbs & cancer precisely reductionism? :-)

    Reply
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    March 10, 2014 at 8:29 pm
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    The authors of the report failed to include their supplemental data, but I did find it and carried out a brief analysis; unless I’m missing something, this Study is far worse than the average epidemiological one. That is because it seems that it’s not just poor in the claims made without proper causation being proved – in fact they should have known from the data that their conclusions were effectively impossible to claim. See my brief analysis below, and if you have a basic scientific, engineering or statistical background, you can decide for yourself:

    http://www.slideshare.net/ivorcummins/20140309-protein-debacle-simplified-version

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    • avatar
      March 11, 2014 at 8:47 am
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      Hey Ivor – I love it! Just tweeted it. Don’t suppose you’ve had any luck getting numbers out of the ‘researchers’? I’m after deaths for the 50-65 year olds and over 65s by protein group (low, moderate, high).
      Bye for now – Zoe

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  • Pingback: Meat and high-protein diets dangerous? Not so, say most experts | Biznews.com

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    March 10, 2014 at 3:12 am
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    If the 65+ group is not having the most deaths, we need to know what mine the data came from.

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  • Pingback: LCHF and health..

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    March 9, 2014 at 11:39 pm
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    Mie:

    I read a lot about cancer, due to personal interest, and the latest research by cancer experts pinpoints sugar and carbohydrates as being the biggest drivers of cancer growth; protein has only a moderate effect, and fat has essentially no effect (so much for the myth that animal fat causes cancer). My guess is it’s probably insulin related, as both carbohydrate and protein can cause insulin spikes, but protein to a lesser extent. I saw a lecture where a cancer specialist recommended that people who are prone to cancer eat a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. He was less concerned about protein, though obviously you don’t want to go crazy with it. I just read the Jaminet article that W linked to, and what they say about protein and cancer growth makes sense to me, based on other things I’ve read and heard.
    As for Weston Price: I, personally, hold his research in high regard. He had the rare opportunity to observe people who were all eating the same native diet, so it was much easier to make comparisons about these various diets without confounding factors. Nowadays, we eat very different diets and have more different lifestyles, so how can you even pinpoint *what* factor is causing which result? Not to mention the fact that he was also often able to compare these people to others of the same group who had switched to a modern diet. In addition to that, he took samples of many of the foods he came in contact with and meticulously tested them for vitamin and nutrient value. One can choose what one wants to believe, but I personally find many so-called “scientific” studies of today too limited and reductionist in approach; at least, too reductionist to make any valid conclusions about. There is a synergy in foods and their nutrients which we haven’t even begun to understand, and isolating only one element is bound to be misleading. This is why I have a lot of trouble with many studies, like this one.

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    March 9, 2014 at 10:56 pm
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    *if we need them
    *degeneration

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    March 9, 2014 at 10:51 pm
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    Ray peat has written many articles about the misnomer of “essential fats” simply concluding that it is absolutely not essential. Chris masterjohn wrote a special report on the pufa which concluded that humans need less than half of one gram of pufas per day. William e m lands the expert on so called essential fats has demonstrated that above the level of 1% consumption of pufas as calories is where disease rates begin to dramatically escalate. The point is that of we need them we need them in incredibly minute quantities. The unstable nature of them leads to the vulnerability to oxidation and molecular defeneration when in a human body. Also if they were so essential to our survival why would the human soecies not have adapted to make them? Ray peat explains about the damage they do to thyroid hormone and that they are essential only in the development of cancer and heart disease. I was curious why you think humans don’t make them? Also why would ruminants have evolved the digestive system which detoxifies pufa if it were essential??

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      December 8, 2014 at 6:21 pm
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      you should avoid all PUFAs as they are unhealthy (seed oils, etc). I’m pretty sure saturated fats (mainly from animals) are the fats Zoe is referring to as being healthy.

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    March 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm
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    These types of studies on food annoy me. There are way to many variables to ever fully say protein amounts could be the cause of anything. Unless you ran a study which divided people into multiple groups all of which were eating the exact same foods just in different proportions then you can’t rely on most of these types of studies. To get a more accurate account you would have to have groups that are high protein and low but you would also need to show if these results are affected by either a high carb or high fat diet as well as a high fat and low fat diet. How do we know these people weren’t also eating chemical madden garbage along with the higher protein etc….

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