Atkins diet cancer risk

UK medical experts have blamed the Atkins diet for a worrying increase in constipation and colon cancer. One of Britain’s top bowel experts, Roger Leicester, said in the Daily Mail, “Bowel cancer is more likely to develop when people eat a lot of animal fat and there is slow-moving transit of food in the gut”. Mr Leicester said that a lack of fibre triggers constipation, which causes bloating and swelling, and psychological problems such as lethargy and lack of sex drive.

I have been warning people for years that the combination of carcinogens from burnt animal fat, called HCAs and PAHs, and processed and cured meat which produce carcinogenic nitrosamines, coupled with constipation is a recipe for colorectal cancer. A recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms this link. According to both the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer the evidence of an association between red and processed meat and colorectal cancer is convincing.

In South Africa, where I’m currently on tour, the Banting diet, which Atkins is based on, has been widely promoted by sports scientist Tim Noakes. While Noakes is right that the cause of obesity, diabetes and heart disease is too much sugar and insulin resistance, he’s wrong about the cure. A low glycaemic load (GL) diet focussing on less carbs and the right ones, and a bit more protein, as I advocate in The Low GL Diet Bible is just as effective for weight loss but doesn’t have the risks. It is also more sustainable in the long run.

The other problem with high protein diets (above 20% of calories – Banting is 20 to 30% of calories) is the stress it puts on your kidneys. A recent review of 30 studies of people without kidney disease, found that every measure of kidney function gets worse on a high protein diet based on meat and dairy produce, but not a high protein diet based on vegetarian sources of protein such as beans, nuts and seeds. The authors conclude, “In the light of the high risk of kidney disease among obese, weight reduction programs recommending HP [high protein] diets especially from animal sources should be handled with caution.”

To find out more about my Low GL Diet visit this page.

To learn more about what I think about high protein diets take a look at this short video.