High protein diets are just as unhealthy as smoking

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Diet: eating meat and cheese as unhealthy as smoking?

For many people who want to lose pounds, high-protein diets are currently the trend. Lots of meat, eggs, milk and cheese, but hardly any carbohydrates: According to a recent US study, those who want to lose weight who eat such a protein-rich diet increase the risk of developing cancer and dying earlier.

There is currently a trend towards higher cancer risk from protein-rich diets, such as those according to Atkins. Lots of meat, eggs, milk and cheese and hardly any carbohydrates: a diet based on the so-called low-carb principle. Such slimming regimens are controversial among experts. A recent study from the US now shows that people under the age of 65 who are on a high-protein diet are at greater risk of dying from cancer. In contrast, the situation is very different for those over 65 years of age. This was the conclusion of a team of scientists led by Valter Lono, professor of biogerontology at the University of Southern California and director of the Longevity Institute. The results were published in the journal "Cell Metabolism".

Protein-rich diet useful for people over 65 The study found that people under 65 who eat a lot of animal protein are four times more likely to die from cancer, diabetes and other diseases. For the over 65-year-olds, however, the situation is very different. According to the scientists, the relationship is reversed in them and the risk of death due to protein-rich food decreases with the elderly. The so-called IGF-I value in the blood is involved in this effect, which slowly decreases in the course of life in adults. A protein-rich diet is therefore more useful for older people because additional protein from the food helps them to keep the IGF level in the blood at a normal level. In the younger generation, too much protein leads to too high an IGF level and this goes hand in hand with an increased risk of cancer. For the study, data from 6,381 women and men over 50 years of age were evaluated in the USA over a period of 18 years. The scientists also compared the data with mouse and cell studies to investigate the relationship between protein and aging, disease and mortality.

Plant proteins work differently The study also showed that plant proteins, such as those found in beans or legumes, appear to have a different effect than animal proteins and have no effect on mortality. However, nutrition experts have indicated that it is too early to draw conclusions from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), on which the study is based. The NHANES accompanied a representative group of Americans of all ages who had eating habits recorded for a year. The approximately 6,000 people aged 50 and over who took part in the survey were examined for the now published study by the California researchers. According to the experts, in order to eat a healthy diet, one should forego proteins into old age and then mainly eat animal protein.

Irresponsible comparison with smokers However, the type and implementation of the study is criticized. This would only take into account eating habits, but not the rest of lifestyle, such as sporting activities. In addition, it was not recorded whether the people were already sick before the survey. Above all, one point is currently being intensively discussed in the USA. In a statement from the university, it was provocatively: "This chicken wing you eat can be as deadly as a cigarette." Health experts criticize this comparison of people who eat a lot of meat and other animal products with smokers massively. Regardless of the interpretations of the study, the comparison with smokers is irresponsible, since animal proteins are okay in moderation, but smoking is always harmful.

Meat-rich diets can lead to kidney stones or gout. Like almost all diets, those who rely on a protein-rich diet are controversial among experts. Studies like the so-called Diogenes study showed a few years ago that a protein-rich diet helps you lose weight, but this is mainly because the feeling of satiety is better than with other methods. But nutrition experts have long pointed out that such a diet can also cause health problems over a longer period of time. For example, a meat-rich diet leads to an increase in the formation of uric acid in the body, which in the long term can lead to kidney stones or gout in some people.

Red meat increases the risk of cancer and infarction Above all, the excessive consumption of red meat, such as beef, pork or lamb, is viewed critically. For example, a long-term study at Harvard University that ran for almost 30 years with more than 120,000 participants came to the conclusion that red meat increases the risk of developing cancer or heart attack. The participants who ate red meat daily during the study period had a 13 percent higher risk of death than the other subjects. The risk of fatal cardiovascular disease was 18 percent higher and that of fatal cancer was ten percent. According to the German Cancer Research Center, red meat and beef and pork sausage products are also suspected of increasing the risk of colon cancer. This has to do with the high iron content of these types of meat, which gives them their red color.

Lowering animal protein intake The German Nutrition Society (DGE) advises eating a maximum of 300 to 600 grams of meat per week. They also indicated that protein intake could range from the recommended daily intake of 0.8 grams to a maximum allowable intake of 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. Based on the results, the head of the US study, Valter Longo, recommends: “It seems best to lower the daily intake of all proteins, especially animal protein. But you shouldn't get too extreme when it comes to protein reduction. You can move from the protected to the malnourished status very quickly. ”(Sb)

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