Eating Protein rich food is as harmful as smoking: Scientists

Latest study claims that eating lot of protein-rich food increases the risk of cancer, which is almost as much as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

Created On: Mar 6, 2014 12:00 ISTModified On: Mar 7, 2014 09:43 IST

Scientists in their latest study claimed that eating lot of protein-rich food (like meat and eggs) increases the risk of cancer, which is almost as much as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. The research report says that over-aged people who east protein-rich foods are four times likely to die of cancer than those who eats a little.

The researcher recommends eating only 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight a day during middle age. The report has defined that 20 percent of the calories comes from the protein. Dr Eileen Crimmins the co-author of the study claimed that at older ages one should avoid low protein diet for maintenance of healthy weight and also for protection from frailty.

Highlights of the study
• High protein intake is linked to increased cancer, diabetes, and overall mortality
• High IGF-1 levels increased the relationship between mortality and high protein
• Higher protein consumption may be protective for older adults
• Plant-derived proteins are associated with lower mortality than animal-derived proteins

The study found that the growth hormone receptor/IGF-1 deficiencies in case of humans and mice have displayed major reduction in age-related diseases because protein restriction reduces GHR-IGF-1 activity, which was studied for links between mortality and protein intake.

The research displayed that the high-protein intake in respondents in the age group of 50 to 65 increases by 75 percent in overall mortality and it increased 4-fold in cancer death risk during the following 18 years. These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived. Conversely, high protein intake was associated with reduced cancer and overall mortality in respondents over 65, but a 5-fold increase in diabetes mortality across all ages. Mouse studies confirmed the effect of high protein intake and GHR-IGF-1 signaling on the incidence and progression of breast and melanoma tumors, but also the detrimental effects of a low protein diet in the very old. These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age followed by moderate to high protein consumption in old adults may optimize health span and longevity.


The report also claims that the protein is beneficial during the later life. The research report was published in the journal Cell: Metabolism after studying the effects on thousands of people aged 50 over 20 years. These people participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) which tracked a representative group of adults and children in the US.

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