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Low-Carb Diets Heavy on Meat May Raise Health Risks
Date:9/7/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- A low-carbohydrate diet that derives fats and proteins from vegetable sources rather than meats is probably healthier, new research finds.

Comparing the two types of diets over two decades, researchers found that the low-carb, vegetable-based plan resulted in reduced rates of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, and a lower rate of all-cause death overall.

"You can have the initial Atkins-type of low-carb diet, which is loaded with sausages, bacon, steaks, and you can have healthy versions of the low-carb diet with more vegetable- or plant-based protein and fat," said Dr. Frank B. Hu, senior author of a study in the Sept. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"We looked at these two versions of low-carb diets and found that the impact of the two are drastically different," Hu said.

"Those who follow the animal-based low-carb diet have an increased risk of total mortality and cancer mortality in particular," said Hu, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

"It's the ratio that's important," said Karen Congro, director of the Wellness for Life Program at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "This tells you that meat is the issue. Red meat is out."

Although several smaller, short-term studies have shown that the Atkins-type low-carb diets lead to weight loss, "there has been a lot of concern that a low-carb diet, which typically [incorporates] animal fat and animal protein, may increase the risk of chronic diseases," Hu said. These include type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Two studies are reported here, one that followed 85,168 women from 1980 through 2006 and one that followed 44,548 men from 1986 through 2006.

Men and women on the animal-based low-carb diet had a 23 percent increased risk of death, a 14 percent increased risk of dy
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