Nutrition: Risky Additions to a Low-Carb Diet
By RONI CARYN RABIN
Atkins-style low-carbohydrate diets help people lose weight, but
people who simply replace the bread and pasta with calories from
animal protein and animal fat may face an increased risk of early
death from cancer and heart disease, a new study reports.
The study found that the death rate among people who adhered most
closely to a low-carb regimen was 12 percent higher over about two
decades than with those who consumed diets higher in carbohydrates.
But death rates varied, depending on the sources of protein and fat
used to displace carbohydrates. Low-carb eaters who drew more protein
and fat from vegetable sources like beans and nuts were 20 percent
less likely to die over the period than people who ate a
But low-carb dieters who got most of their protein and fat from animal
sources like red and processed meats were 14 percent more likely to
die of heart disease and 28 percent more likely to die of cancer, the
The study, published Sept. 7 in Annals of Internal Medicine, analyzed
data from more than 85,000 healthy women aged 34 to 59 who
participated in the Nurses' Health Study, and almost 45,000 men aged
40 to 75 who took part in the Health Professionals' Follow-Up Study.
Participants filled out questionnaires every four years.
"If people want to follow a low-carb diet, this provides some
guidance," said the paper's lead author, Teresa T. Fung, an associate
professor of nutrition at Simmons College in Boston. "They should
probably eat less meats."