Too Much Protein Linked to Early Death: Eating Meat and Cheese as Bad as Smoking

Mar 05, 2014 08:25 AM EST | By Staff Writer

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Do you like meat, cheese and milk? You might want to think twice before eating so much of it. A new study reveals that eating a high-protein diet could be just as deadly as smoking cigarettes. In fact, middle-aged people who eat a protein-heavy diet have a higher risk of cancer.

"There's a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple," said Valter Longo, one of the researchers on the new study, in an interview with Healthline. "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?"

The researchers examined the diets of over 6,300 adults over the age of 50 in order to see what effect high, medium and low protein diets had on their longevity. A high protein diet was classified as 20 percent of a person's daily calories coming from protein while a medium diet was classified as 10 to 19 percent made up of protein, according to Forbes.

So what did they find? It turns out that middle-aged Americans who ate the most protein were more than four times as likely to die of cancer or diabetes. That's not all, either. They were also twice as likely to die of any cause, according to the LA Times.

Yet the opposite was true for those who were older. A study on Americans aged 66 and older found that those who had diets that were the highest in protein were 60 percent less likely to die of cancer and 28 percent less likely to die of any cause.

"Your stage in life matters," said Valter Longo, lead author of the paper, in an interview with the LA Times. "Some have said for years that proteins are bad. That's half right and half wrong."

The findings reveal that diet and your stage of life is critically important to remaining healthy. By understanding what to eat and when, you can help extend the amount of healthy years that you live far into the future.

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