High-Protein Diets and Cancer

Among the fad diets that have gained popularity in recent years have been those focusing on a high-protein, low carbohydrate approach.  The weight-loss effects of such diets (such as the Atkins Diet) certainly have been shown, but what are the long-term effects of such diets?  In my forthcoming book, The Layman’s Guide to Surviving Cancer, I have a chapter entitled “Eating Well to Be Well.”  It stresses the benefits of a diet that focuses primarily on plant-based foods to enhance the immune system, provide the kind of energy that our bodies need and reduce the amount of man-made additives that are alien to the body and not readily eliminated by it, and cause inflammation.  This kind of diet also often is easier on the digestive system of cancer patients.

The results of a recent study indicate that, in fact, high-protein diets — and in particular diets in which the bulk of the protein consumed comes from animal proteins — are associated with higher cancer incidence in people under 65 as compared to people who eat far less animal proteins.  Indeed, the study,  published by the Center for Disease Control, covered 6,381 people aged 50 and over and found that the cancer risk for people who consume high amounts of protein was as high as four times greater than people who consumed less protein.  Moreover, although an elevated cancer risk among middle-aged people was still higher when their diets were heavy on protein consumption, “[t]he overall harmful effects seen in the study were almost completely wiped out when the protein came from plant sources, such as beans and legumes.”  The finding of this study seems to confirm several other studies that have found that a high amount of meat consumption is linked to certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancers.  An article discussing this study is available at http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/mar/04/animal-protein-diets-smoking-meat-eggs-dairy

The issue remains controversial, but the growing evidence suggests that an over-reliance on protein in the diet of people under age 65 can potentially lead to greater incidence of cancer.  So skip the hot dogs and eat your veggies.  Let me know your thoughts.

In healing,

Howard

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