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'Atkins'-Type Diets May Raise Risk of Heart Problems: Study
Date:6/27/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- Women who regularly eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet may be raising their risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 28 percent, a new study suggests.

Although the absolute increase in risk is small -- four or five extra cases per 10,000 women -- many young women try the Atkins diet or similar regimens and could be setting themselves up for cardiovascular problems later in life, the researchers noted.

"Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets are frequently used for body-weight control," said lead researcher Dr. Pagona Lagiou, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Athens Medical School in Greece. "Although [the diets] may be nutritionally acceptable if the protein is mainly of plant origin, such as nuts, and the reduction of carbohydrates applies mainly to simple and refined [carbohydrates] like unhealthy sweeteners, drinks and snacks, the general public does not always recognize and act on this guidance."

The study, published online June 26 in the BMJ, does not answer questions about the possible short-term benefits of these diets in the control of body weight or insulin resistance, Lagiou said.

For the study, Lagiou's team collected data on the diets of more than 43,000 Swedish women who were between the ages of 30 and 49 at the start of the study.

Over an average of 15 years of follow-up, there were more than 1,200 cardiovascular events, including heart disease and stroke. There were more of these events among the women who followed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet than among women who didn't, the researchers found.

Compared with women who veered furthest from the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, women who followed the diet most closely increased their risk by 28 percent, even after other risk factors, such as smoking, drinking, hypertension, exercise and fat intake, were
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