Low-Carb-Prostate Cancer Study--WRONG!

It seems like anytime the phrase “low-carb” is mentioned in research, you can pretty much just assume it’s wrong. Like this study claiming fat and meat are unlikely to impact prostate cancer risk. Reuters reported:

In an email to Reuters Health, principal investigator Dr. Laurence N. Kolonel and first author Song-Yi Park of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, said: "Although diet is likely to influence prostate cancer risk, the intake of total and saturated fat do not appear to be important contributors. However, because high intake of fat can lead to obesity as well as other cancers, the consumption of high fat foods should be limited."

How can this be? When foods like meat, cheese, and animal fat have all demonstrated a positive correlation with prostate cancer and all these foods are staples of low-carb living. Check out this quote from Dr. Fuhrman:

When the death rates for prostate cancer and testicular cancer were examined in forty-two countries and correlated with dietary practices in a carefully designed study, they found that cheese consumption was most closely linked with the incidence of testicular cancer for ages twenty to thirty-nine, and milk was the most closely associated with prostate cancer of all foods.1 Meat, coffee, and animal fats also showed a positive correlation.

Now, this new report will have you saying, “What the—” Apparently researchers from Duke University Medical Center have determined that a low-carb diet may slow prostate tumor growth. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News has more:

"This study showed that cutting carbohydrates may slow tumor growth, at least in mice. If this is ultimately confirmed in human clinical trials, it has huge implications for prostate cancer therapy through something that all of us can controls, our diets," lead researcher Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urologist at Duke University Medical Center, said in a prepared statement…


…They compared tumor growth in mice eating either a low-carbohydrate diet; a low-fat but high-carbohydrate diet; or a Western diet high in fat and carbohydrates.

Wow! What a measuring stick, the Western diet? No doubt this report will spur the latest wave of low-carb fanaticism. So, let DiseaseProof be your beacon of truth. Here’s more of Dr. Fuhrman talking about animal products and prostate cancer-causation. Check it out:

A study in the December 2006 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that less animal products result in less cancer and more animal protein raises IGF-1 and promotes breast and prostate cancer...


…Studies have repeatedly shown the correlation between consumption of [fruits and vegetables] and a lower incidence of various cancers, including those of the breast, colon, rectum, lung, stomach, prostate, and pancreas.2

Clearly, animal products are no ally in the fight against prostate cancer and it’s pretty obvious that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is the key, but with that being said, the dangers of refined carbohydrates should not be overshadowed. Dr. Fuhrman explains:

Medical investigations clearly show the dangers of consuming the quantity of processed foods that we do. And because these refined grains lack fiber and nutrient density to turn down our appetite, they also cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and significantly increased cancer risk3...


…The combination of fat and refined carbohydrates has an extremely powerful effect on driving the signals that promote fat accumulation on the body. Refined foods cause a swift and excessive rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin surges to drive the sugar out of the blood and into our cells. Unfortunately, insulin also promotes the storage of fat on the body and encourages your fat cells to swell.

So after considering all this, one should hardly take this low-carb endorsement seriously. To close, I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Steven Acocella, DC, MS, DACBN offer up his reasoning why anyone would choose to go low-carb. Take a look:

Addiction is the only reason that anyone would continue to maintain that a pro-Atkin’s, low-carbohydrate diet is health promoting. One would have to literally ignore thousands of studies that irrefutably support these findings. For every research article that dispels the direct relationship between a low-carb, high protein/high fat diet style and disease promotion there’s about 500 studies that refute it.

Kind of hits the nail on the head—don't you think?

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The Worst...and That's Atkins!

The Atkins Diet, it’s an over-hyped and dangerous fad, but we knew that already. What we didn’t know, is how had it is for blood vessels, but we found that out last week. Remember this Reuters report, “High-fat Atkins diet damages blood vessels?” Here’s a refresher:

The high-fat Atkins diet can cause long-term damage to blood vessels, as well as some of the inflammation linked with heart and artery disease, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.


In contrast, low-fat regimens such as the South Beach and Ornish diets lowered cholesterol and appeared to benefit artery function, they said.

"It really is the Atkins diet that is the worst," Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, said in a telephone interview.

"The Atkins diet caused the LDL levels to go up by about 7 percent, whereas in the Ornish and South Beach diets ... they went down 7 to 10 percent."

Now, this enflamed the low-carb consortium—they practically passed out torches and pitchforks—and this outrage went straight to the top. In fact, the Grand Pubahs of nutritional misinformation Atkins Nutritional, Inc. decreed their “official” rebuttal. Here it is:

A presentation at the recent meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, comparing the maintenance stages of three diet regimens, Atkins, South Beach and Ornish, has relied on faulty research and a misunderstanding of Atkins protocols to suggest the Atkins diet may not be heart healthy.


Dr. Michael Miller, who made the presentation, apparently ignored more than 30 years of clinical experience and independent research on low carbohydrate diets, and now four years of trials looking specifically at the Atkins protocols, which have consistently demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of the Atkins diet.

Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc., Vice President of Nutrition & Education at Atkins Nutritionals, commenting on Dr. Miller’s presentation, referenced several peer reviewed studies which report opposite findings. Among the most prominent was a year-long weight loss and health study conducted by Stanford University researchers and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which showed no increased risk of cardiovascular markers in more than 300 overweight subjects.

In summarizing his study, Dr. Miller acknowledged that researchers considering the effects of low carbohydrate diets have reached very different conclusions depending on sample size, research protocol and any number of other uncontrolled variables. Unfortunately, Dr. Miller's research cannot be fully evaluated since his study has not been peer reviewed or published. But, given the short duration of his study, the very small sample size, and the weak correlations, drawing conclusions about possible long term health risks tied to fat consumption in the maintenance phase of any weight control program is not good science.

According to media reports, the subjects in Dr. Miller’s study were put on what’s described as the maintenance phase of Atkins with 50% of their calories coming from fat. However, this is not the Atkins maintenance phase protocol, nor is it part of the Atkins diet protocols. The lipid response Dr. Miller reported is what one might expect from a combination of rich carbohydrates and fat, but it’s not Atkins.

When it comes to nutrition and weight control, the public deserves science based conclusions. Time and again independent research has shown the benefits of a low-carbohydrate nutritional approach to safe and healthy weight loss and weight maintenance. And that's Atkins!

After reading this I am reminded of old German news reels from the fifties—not sure why. So, as a follow up to last week’s post Atkins...The Worst, I decided to track down some expert opinions on all this Atkins nonsense. First up, Linda Popescu, MS, RD:

The Stanford University study that Atkins Nutritionals references studied 4 different diets over a 12 month period (Atkins, Zone, Ornish and Learn). The amount of weight loss was modest at 12 months for all of the diets, ranging from 2% to 5% of body weight. Participants following the Atkins diet lost an average of 10 pounds over the 12 months. The women participating in the study attended 1 hour classes once per week for 8 weeks; they received email and telephone reminders plus cash incentives for completing data collection materials. With this type of support, a ten pound weight loss for women who averaged 190 pounds is not exactly a success story. If you assume that they would need to lose at least 50 pounds to achieve ideal body weight, they would have to faithfully follow the Atkins Diet for 5 years.


A low fiber, low phytonutrient, high saturated fat is not a recommendation that any responsible health care professional should make. Diets high in saturated fat promote both heart disease and cancer. Vegetables and fruit are carbohydrates. Low carbohydrate diets restrict these rich sources of cancer fighting phytonutrients and fiber.

Now here’s Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Steven Acocella, D.C., MS, DACBN. Check out what he had to say:

The inherent strength of the pro-Atkins camp is that a high carbohydrate diet is a major culprit in the development of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), and they could not be more RIGHT! A diet high in refined carbohydrates is a scientifically proven, potent risk factor in the development in CAD. But the leap of error is that they argue by default that must mean that a low carbohydrate diet replaced by a high fat diet reduces, or even remove this increased disease risk. This is an inane argument as both processed carbohydrate intake and high fat/high protein dietary intake raise the risk of developing CAD. Atkin’s made a major contribution to humanity by scientifically exposing the dangers of a high carbohydrate diet. But claiming that a high fat/high protein diet is less dangerous is like comparing arsenic to cyanide. Clearly, both are dramatically dangerous and promote disease. Compare studies done with whole, unprocessed plant food and natural carbohydrate intake and diets whose calories are derived primarily from protein or fat and you will see a stark contrast, namely cardio protective v. cardiopathic results (Chen et al., 2006; Stanton and Crow, 2006; Steffen and Nettleton, 2006; Samaha et al., 2003). Simply put, diets high in refined carbohydrates are as disease promoting, and on par with, a diet high in protein and or fat.


Many claim that my position of the disease promoting nature of a diet high in animal fat and protein is unsupported by the literature because if it were true then millions of people world wide who eat such a diets would be dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Exactly, I agree. They are. The closer you get to the Atkins dietary recommendations the more likely you will suffer an untimely and avoidable death, and this position is supported by the vast majority of the scientific literature (Rosenstock et al., 2006; Foster et al., 2003; Kelemen et al., 2005; McCullough et al., 2002). But the exact same thing can be said about a high carbohydrate diet, no exceptions. We all agree that the SAD diet is a major contributing factor in placing our nation high on the list of diseases of nutritional excess, such as obesity and its co-morbidities, and the 3 leading causes of death.

Atkins and low-carb/high-protein diets (LC/HP) in general simply raise the levels of some of the worst offenders of the SAD diet. A simple law of biology is that if something is detrimental at some exposure level then increasing the exposure level is likely to make it more detrimental, and it doesn’t matter if the offender is carbohydrate or protein or fat.

In the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2007, a massive 10 year dietary assessment study of 22,944 subjects was published. The investigation was part of the EPIC Project (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). Titled, Low- carbohydrate-high-protein diet and long-term survival in a general population cohort, Dr. Hsieh of the Harvard School of Public Health and his colleagues’ asses the relationship between high protein, high carbohydrate and low carbohydrate-high protein intake with cancer and cardiovascular mortality. The results were significant.

After proportional hazard regression analysis of 113,230 person years, Dr. Hsieh states, “higher intake of carbohydrates was associated with significant reduction of total mortality”. But perhaps most striking are the authors’ results that state, “…even more predictive of both cardiovascular and cancer mortality were the additive effects of low carbohydrate-high protein scores.” [P=0.001]. The article makes a clear and compelling case for the dangers of a LC/HP diet. The conclusion reads, “Prolonged consumption of diets low in carbohydrates and high in protein (LC/HP) is associated with an increase in total mortality”.

I reviewed the raw statistical data and the mortality gradient is considerable and linearly proportional to LC/HP score. This correlation between macronutrient profile and mortality and morbidity from cancer and cardiovascular disease is not unexpected and consistent with the vast majority of credible studies that all point in the same direction (McCullough, et al., 2002; Trichopoulou et al., 2003).

Addiction is the only reason that anyone would continue to maintain that a pro-Atkin’s, low-carbohydrate diet is health promoting. One would have to literally ignore thousands of studies that irrefutably support these findings. For every research article that dispels the direct relationship between a low-carb, high protein/high fat diet style and disease promotion there’s about 500 studies that refute it.

This is one of my favorite anti-Atkins raps. You can find it over at AtkinsExposed.org. Here’s an excerpt:

When the chief health officer for the State of Maryland,1 was asked "What's wrong with the Atkins Diet?" He replied "What's wrong with... taking an overdose of sleeping pills? You are placing your body in jeopardy." He continued "Although you can lose weight on these nutritionally unsound diets, you do so at the risk of your health and even your life."2


The Chair of Harvard's nutrition department went on record before a 1973 U.S. Senate Select Committee investigating fad diets: "The Atkins Diet is nonsense... Any book that recommends unlimited amounts of meat, butter, and eggs, as this one does, in my opinion is dangerous. The author who makes the suggestion is guilty of malpractice."3

The Chair of the American Medical Association's Council on Food and Nutrition testified before the Senate Subcommittee as to why the AMA felt they had to formally publish an official condemnation of the Atkins Diet: "A careful scientific appraisal was carried out by several council and staff members, aided by outside consultants. It became apparent that the [Atkins] diet as recommended poses a serious threat to health."4

UPDATE: The Atkins beat down continues. Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jennifer Petrillo, MD was eager to throw a few jabs at Atkins over this study. She’s a toughie:

It is no surprise that this new study, which controlled patients for weight loss while they followed each prescribed diet, finds that Atkins is the unhealthiest in the long run. With up to sixty percent f calories coming from fat, what could be expected? It is clear that diets low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables and fiber are protective against heart disease and cancer, yet Atkins recommends only one more serving per day of fruits and vegetables than the Standard American Diet (SAD) guidelines do (six servings over five) and has a fiber content of only twelve grams per 1,000 calories, far below any other commercially-marketed diet plan. The huge amount of animal protein recommended by Atkins serves as the trigger for a cascade of increased T cells, B cells and macrophages that ultimately leads to the release of cytokines that cause inflammation in the body. Add to this the fact that long-term weight loss on Atkins is just average and it is clear that following the Atkins diet is a recipe for disease and early death. The only hopeful thing about the Atkins diet is that adherence to this plan is so poor that hopefully most people discontinue it before they cause major physical damage to themselves. Plant-based nutrient-dense eating, not high fat, high animal protein and low fiber, is the simplest, easiest and best way to achieve great health and longevity.

And to round out the mini-panel, I offer up this great quote from Dr. Fuhrman. It kind of says it all. Take a look:

Any diet high in animal products and low in fiber, fruit, beans, and yellow vegetables is going to shorten life span significantly. If Robert Atkins follows his own dietary advice, he is a perfect example of what you would expect from such unhealthful dietary recommendations. He was overweight and developed heart disease.

But sadly, I’m sure millions of people will continue to fall for the low-carb lies. I guess some emotional attachments to food are just too hard to kick. To quote one low-carber, “At this point I hardly care about the weight! I am so healthy and happy! Why would I not love bacon? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.” Sigh…

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Atkins...The Worst

Now, I know it’s a dead horse, but, I can’t resist beating it! Sorry horse lovers. We all know that The Atkins Diet and other high-protein low-carb diets are dangerous and based in nutritionally folly, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s Dr. Fuhrman:

As much as I hate to keep talking about the high-saturated-fat, low-antioxidant-nutrient Atkins diet, I am forced to because his diet continues to make front-page news and stays on the tips of everybody’s tongues…


…Any diet high in animal products and low in fiber, fruit, beans, and yellow vegetables is going to shorten life span significantly. If Robert Atkins follows his own dietary advice, he is a perfect example of what you would expect from such unhealthful dietary recommendations. He was overweight and developed heart disease. Do you think he needs to eat more cheese and pork rinds to thin up a bit, as he recommends; or do you think he just might be better off on a diet rich in raw plant foods, beans, steamed greens, carrots, and fresh fruit such as berries and peaches…

…Atkins devotees adopt a dietary pattern completely opposite of what is recommended by the leading research scientists studying the link between diet and cancer.1 Specifically, fruit exclusion alone is a significant cancer marker. Stomach and esophageal cancer are linked to populations that do not consume a sufficient amount of fruit.2 Scientific studies show a clear and strong dose-response relationship between cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, and prostate with low fruit consumption.3 To the surprise of many investigators, fruit consumption shows a powerful dose-response association with a reduction in heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.4

May I interject my own theory? Again, I’m just a layman with an opinion, but, I think I’m onto something. I contend that The Atkins Diet is simply a money-making scheme that exploits people’s emotional attachments to “good ole American” food. Check this post out:

Food Face-Off
What does 200 calories of food look like? Actually, that’s kind of a trick question because it depends on the food. According to Dr. Fuhrman small amounts of some foods like meat and diary are more calorie-dense than larger amounts of fruits and vegetables. Check out the chart in Foods That Make You Thin for more.


Of course, if you prefer pictures, take a look at what’s going on over at WiseGeek. You’ll see that the portion size of 200 calories worth of celery, baby carrots, or broccoli, dwarf what you get from 200 calories of canola oil, uncooked pasta, or cheddar cheese. Gee, I wonder, which foods help you lose weight? Now that’s not a trick question!

WiseGeek: What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

Here's a comment to this post by a known low-carber and DiseaseProof blog troll:

Which of these foods leave you with a deep down to your bones satisfied feeling?

And here's my reply:

For me its the Kiwi, I eat them almost everyday.

“Deep down to your bones satisfied feeling?” What the heck does that have to do with good nutrition? Marijuana gives you that feeling—so they say—so is smoking weed healthy? Hardly! Sounds like an emotional attachment to food to me. Here’s another example:

Meat: Grill, Fry, or Broil it?
...So, will people heed these warnings and cut back on the amount of animal products they eat and be careful not to dangerously cook their food? My guess, probably not, especially with this kind of rhetoric kicking around the blogosphere. Like LivinLaVidaLowCarb’s ringing endorsement of frying meat in butter—sadly, I’m not kidding. Proceed with caution:
I agree with the advice to shun the fried foods specifically because of the breading. But if you want to fry up your meat in a pan full of butter, then knock yourself out. It’s a healthy way to enjoy that succulent protein-loaded food.


While it’s nice to bake, broil, and especially grill meats, don’t fall for the illusion that cooking these ways is any healthier than cooking meat in fat. Avoid the trans fats, of course, but you shouldn’t worry about saturated fats as long as you are livin’ la vida low-carb.
Take a moment to note that butter is also on Dr. Fuhrman’s list of the seven worst foods. Okay, it gets worse. Check out this quote from Carbohydrate Addict, apparently this Atkins dieter thinks grilled-cheese is fabulous—sigh. Here it is:
I think one of the reasons Atkins was so perfect for me was because I was on low fat/low cholesterol for sooooo many years. All of the forbidden foods suddenly became okay to eat without guilt and my cholesterol is finally FABULOUS. I'm still on a high when I eat them! Egg salad, bacon, chicken wings, mac and cheese, grilled cheese.... YUM!
Yum? For bacon and egg salad? Whoa! What a world we live in...

What a great scam/money-maker? Tell people that what they’ve been told is wrong—despite the wealth of information proving otherwise—then convince them that is okay to eat all those harmful foods they love; bacon, red meat, butter, etc. More from Dr. Fuhrman:

It is an interesting phenomenon to me low-carb dieters search to find small pearls of dissent in the scientific literature to support their views as they ignore thousands of well-performed studies, I wonder why they are so attached to their diets or views that they can’t accept the preponderance of evidence and modify their stance…


…To make matters even worse, you pay an extra penalty from a diet so high in fat and protein to generate a chronic ketosis. Besides the increased cancer risk, your kidneys are placed under greater stress and will age more rapidly. It can take many, many years for such damage to be detected by blood tests. By the time the blood reflects the abnormality, irreversible damage may have already occurred. Blood tests that monitor kidney function typically do not begin to detect problems until more than 90 percent of the kidneys have been destroyed…

...Americans already eat approximately 40 percent of their calories from animal products; we have seen a tragic skyrocketing in cancer and heart-disease rates in the past fifty years as a result of such nutritional extravagance.5 You can lose some weight on the Atkins Diet, but you run the risk of losing your health at the same time.

I guess the allure of bacon is just too much for some people—and that my friends is a serious emotional attachment to food! Honestly, is a food-crush really worth it? Especially in light of this news, Reuters reports, “High-fat Atkins diet damages blood vessels.” Here’s a bit:

The high-fat Atkins diet can cause long-term damage to blood vessels, as well as some of the inflammation linked with heart and artery disease, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.


In contrast, low-fat regimens such as the South Beach and Ornish diets lowered cholesterol and appeared to benefit artery function, they said.

"It really is the Atkins diet that is the worst," Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, said in a telephone interview.

"The Atkins diet caused the LDL levels to go up by about 7 percent, whereas in the Ornish and South Beach diets ... they went down 7 to 10 percent."

Low density lipoprotein or LDL is the "bad" cholesterol that clogs blood vessels.

Hungry for an expert opinion on this study, I tapped Linda Popescu one of the Registered Dieticians that works in Dr. Fuhrman’s office. Linda is no fan of The Atkins Diet either, and, she makes it pretty obvious here. Take a look:

“The high fat Atkins diet is dangerous and should not be recommended.” This is news? Eat to Live, which was published 5 years ago, devoted a whole chapter to the negative consequences of following The Atkins Diet. For years, well researched studies have show that this type of meat-based, high protein, fiberless diet can lead to heart disease and cancer. Even basic common sense should tell you eating this way is not good for your health. It’s good to see that this diet has finally run its course. As the article states “Why not start out with a diet that will be healthier for you in the long run after weight loss”?

So then, what is the best diet for disease-prevention, healthy bodyweight, and longevity? This should be a no-brainer! Dr. Fuhrman’s vegetable-based nutrient-dense Eat to Live diet-style tops them all. More from Dr. Fuhrman:

Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing is the one pound-one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked--keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses…


…The biggest animals--elephants, gorillas, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and giraffes--all eat predominantly green vegetation. How did they get the protein to get so big? Obviously, greens pack a powerful protein punch, in fact, all protein on the planet was formed from the effect of sunlight on green plants. The cow didn't eat another cow to form the protein in its muscles, which we call steak. The protein wasn't formed out of thin air--the cow ate grass. Not that protein is such a big deal or some special nutrient to be held in high esteem. I am making this point because most people think animal products are necessary for a diet to include adequate protein. I am merely illustrating how easy it is to consume more than enough protein while at the same time avoiding risky, cancer-promoting substances such as saturated fat.

I don’t know about you, but, the choice is pretty clear to me. Oh! And for more information on the dangers of Atkins-type diets check out DiseaseProof’s diet myths category, or, visit our friends over at AtkinsExposed.org.

*FOLLOW UP POST: The Worst...and That's Atkins!

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