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High Protein Diet in Middle Age Doubles Risk of Early Death

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too much meat Over the past several decades, scientific researchers have been paving a very clear road detailing the optimal path to vibrant health, disease prevention and longevity. And while diets that exclude one macronutrient or another — such as carbs or meats — may seem to work in the short term, but are regularly shown to lead to chronic disease conditions and in some cases an early death.

Some Protein Sources Fuel Inflammatory Hormone Production to Increase Cancer Risk

A research team from the University of Southern California have published the result of a study in the journal, Cell Metabolism that explains how a high-protein diet during middle age makes you nearly twice as likely to die and four times more likely to die of cancer. The debates continue to rage as to how much protein, carbohydrates and fat should be eaten and in what ratio to ensure human health. New research shows that the amount of protein and more specifically the source may hold the key to disease development and progression during our middle adult and senior years.

The study leader, Dr. Valter Longo noted, “There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple. But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive to be 100?” For the better part of the last two decades, scientists have shown that people following a diet high in animal protein (milk, meat and cheese) are more likely to die of any cause than their low-protein counterparts. Proponents of the popular high-protein diets that exclude most carbohydrates will likely attempt to devalue this research, yet the facts still remain. Authors of this study have determined that excess protein consumption, particularly from animal sources results in a 74 percent increase in all-cause mortality.

Dramatically Limit Animal Protein to Lower Systemic Inflammation and Extend Lifespan

There is no question that eliminating highly processed carbohydrates and sugars from the diet dramatically reduce the risk of many chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease and dementia, but filling those calories with animal protein sources can have an equally detrimental effect. This study also provides an interesting link between age and levels of protein consumption. Researchers found that up until age 65, excess protein raised levels of the growth hormone IGF-1, a known factor for cancer proliferation. The macronutrient was found to be protective for older adults, as those over 65 who ate a moderate or high-protein diet were less susceptible to disease.

The study authors concluded that their research “shows that a low-protein diet in middle age is useful for preventing cancer and overall mortality, through a process that involves regulating IGF-I and possibly insulin levels… however, we also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid a low-protein diet to allow the maintenance of healthy weight and protection from frailty.” This research is one of a mounting number of studies to clearly associate protein intake with inflammatory hormone levels throughout the body that trigger and promote cancerous cell growth. Limiting protein intake, especially from animal sources through mid-life is a key factor in limiting cancer risk and extending natural lifespan.


John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives. Discover the latest alternative health news concerning diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and weight loss at My Optimal Health Resource


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2 responses to “High Protein Diet in Middle Age Doubles Risk of Early Death”

  1. Matthew Arntzen says:

    What they never describe are the over-40 crowd that works out religiously (not just on Sunday!) and need more protein. These studies are done for men that sit on their butts all day and do nothing. As most studies are…guess they don’t pick the healthy, active, workout in the gym a few days a week types do they? Never a mention of exercise either. HA!

    Saw a 1-hour long documentary on PBS once. It was about obesity in America. In that one hour the word exercise was used three times. And NEVER by the physicians they interviewed. The three mentions of exercise were coming from people that were actually exercising. And the doctors on that show – they NEEDED to exercise.

  2. Eva Cunningham says:

    I suspect that the protein eaters in this study ate meat, cheese and fat heavy meals to the exclusion of other nutrients. The more I read conflicting viewpoints, the more I am convinced that taking a “middle road” is the way to go. Eat for health and for pleasure, drink some wine, have some sex, skip the sugar and exercise like your life depends on it – because it does.