December 8, 2016

"One of the benefits and concerns about high protein intake, especially animal protein, is that it tends to make cells multiply faster."

"That’s good in early life, when you’re a growing child. But in later life, this is one of the fundamental processes that increase the risk of cancer."

Said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, quoted in "Can You Get Too Much Protein?" (NYT).

38 comments:

Big Mike said...

Oh, bull***t. This is just another dip***t idiot trying to convince us all to be vegans.

Vegans lose brain cells. That's why they vote Democrat.

EDH said...

Protein powder drinks make me feel weird in the gut/body, as do artificial sweeteners in the head.

Tells me to avoid both.

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh, bull***t. This is just another dip***t idiot trying to convince us all to be vegans."

A lot of that protein powder is soy.

It seems there are products these days that just let you powder up to as much protein as you want.

Curious George said...

It's pretty clear that there is a direct link between consuming animal products (meat and dairy) and cancer. Watch the documentary Forks over Knives.

mockturtle said...

Hitler was a vegan.

Paul Rinkes said...

Interestingly, my 11-year-old dog was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (basically, bone marrow cancer). We had to switch him to a low-protein diet, as that was the only marker my vet had to measure how much cancer was present in his system. Poor guy's a vegan now. :(

Michael K said...

The vegans have been claiming this for decades.

There is even a nutty group called "Physicians for Social Responsibility" that has booths at medical conventions trying to get physicians to promote vegetarian diets along with other left wing causes.

tim in vermont said...

Peanut butter powder is pretty good. I am slowly morphing into a vegetarian as I follow my tastes, not in a "captain of my soul" kind of way, where I made some kind of decision. But I still like to cut up a piece of bacon to to fry up onions and mushrooms to cook with my kale. I like meat more as a flavoring now. I seriously doubt I will ever give up bacon or smoked salmon or oysters or eggs though. But you know the last thing I would do? Tell somebody else how to eat. And if I go to somebody's house for dinner, I eat what is served.

I can't see the point in going "vegan," it seems so passive aggressive. Forcing your hosts to go to extreme lengths because of some theoretical aversion to animal products of any kind. I remember a young vegan guest who refused to eat the eggs from my backyard chickens, even though the chickens were free to roam the yard, eating worms, cherry tomatoes, frogs, baby mice when they could find them, and were as well treated as a chicken could be I think, because of "how badly chickens are treated."

I guess taking their eggs so they never got to the number of eggs that forms a clutch, and allows them to stop laying and start brooding is a kind of "lucy and the football" mistreatment. My conscience never bothers me about it though.

traditionalguy said...

Fear sells. Go forth and fear your diets that have still have any meat (protein), salt (blood pressure), fresh fruits (pesticide residue), sugar (obesity maker), fish (mercury) and water (lead).

SGT Ted said...

Most food "science" is just propaganda from some industry or special interest trying to influence and manipulate others for their own benefit.

The moral preening of Vegans and quite a few vegetarians is quite obnoxious and is often based on an immature emotional response to the idea of animals being killed for food.

themightypuck said...

Almost everyone instinctively limits protein intake to somewhere around 20% of calories.

tim in vermont said...

Well, you know, there are only two ways to get honey, either enslave the bees, or rob a wild hive!

I wonder how many mice are killed harvesting a wheat field? Questions, questions, for a sensitive person to ponder!

coupe said...

I seem to remember astronauts being given high protein meals so they wouldn't have to go poo-poo in their space suits.

David said...

Is this based in evidence or is it a hypothesis?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Haven't read the article--what does it say about the effect of eating lots of (delicious) animal fat?

320Busdriver said...

I prefer whey protein powder. Combined with excercise and a good diet it worked wonders for me. I strive for 150+ g/ day.

Unknown said...

I must admit I am very skeptical of "nutrition" discoveries. Especially those that would so easily line up with climate change dogma.

Just saying..

Michael K said...

My middle daughter was a Vegan until she lived a year in Spain. She was a meat eater again when she came back. She said she would have starved to death else.

coupe said...

All one has to do, is drive across Kansas on US 50, and you will never eat beef again.

Nothing but feedlots every 10 miles, and seeing all the cattle standing in mud and shit and being fed nothing but grain, smells as bad as it sounds.

n.n said...

Context matters. Moderation is a rule of thumb. Health care reform begins with education reform.

Crimso said...

Not too sure about the cause and effect here.

Increased rates of cell division alone almost certainly raises your risk of a cancer. It might be a very slight increase, but over time the risks add up.

Cancers are very complex diseases that are rarely attributable to a single cause. This includes cigarettes, vinyl chloride monomer, aflatoxin, etc. These things greatly increase your risk, but they don't insure it will happen. Multiple mutations are required, and even then your body (down to the level of the individual cells themselves) is constantly taking active measures to prevent it (some of which would blow your mind).

walter said...

"The vast majority of Americans already get more than the recommended daily amounts of protein from food, they say, and there are no rigorous long-term studies to tell us how much protein is too much."
Sounds pretty settled.

I don't doubt there are issues with too much.
But..I think I'd be more concerned by the rise in obesity since the experts put forth that food pyramid and warnings about fat...i.e. too much glucose either directly or as a by-product. When prepping for a cancer oriented PET scan, it's the "sugars" that are restricted.
The processed, unnatural forms of protein are likely a greater concern than animal based...though what those animals are fed/injected with should be considered.

Sigivald said...

"Harvard" and "Public Health" do not inspire confidence, sadly. Indeed, even less than the Times does.

(cf. their "research" related to firearms.)

I'm willing to believe that immense amounts of protein might be an issue, sure ... but I'm even more sure nobody should take any action on it until there's a lot more research.

Joe said...

This isn't talking about protein vs no protein, nor does it have anything to do with veganism. It's about how much protein is optimal and concludes that this, in part, varies with age.

One takeaway is that taking protein supplements in your twenties may be a good, or perhaps neutral, thing, but you should be cautious about taking them after your, say, forties, but especially sixties and later.

(Note sure how veganism even entered into this. Vegans have to be careful to get the proper amounts and types of protein since too little is really bad for you.)

BTW, there was a study some years back that looked at diets all over the world, both contemporary and historically and found that the the protein/fat/carbohydrate ratios are remarkably consistent--15%/30%/55% respectively. Eat that in moderation with a reasonable variety of foods and you will be healthy diet-wise.

Alex said...

I just feel better when I have rice & vegetables vs some heavy fat meat meal. It's not ideological, but healthier.

mockturtle said...

IMO, the best diet is one that consists of real food rather than faux or processed food.

Paul said...

Low carbs (no grains, potatoes, starch, sugar, alcohol), high protein and fat (from grass fed meat and dairy animals), plenty of greens, minimal amounts of fruit, some nuts, intermittent fasting, and HARD physical exercise and you have the human body as it's designed to be and your best shot at good health and well being. Too much discipline and not enough indulgence for most people.

Howard said...

root stew with brown rice and cheap meat (shoulder of swine and steer, thigh of chicken, all with bones and fat and skin) is the way to go. also a few starvation days per month. couple cans of unsalted sardines and chunk light tuna every week. lots of salads and greens. whole fruits. hippy bread and hippy cereal. poached and hard boiled eggs. just discovered mulberries... not too sweet but full of flavor and chewy like caramel. ants on the log and carrot sticks. You can tell how healthy your diet is by how easily it is eliminated and what the loaf looks like. If it just falls out without effort and circles the bowl without falling apart, all is well. Also, if your piss stinks, you are overloading the kidneys with nitrogen.

Howard said...

The world is carcinogenic, getting a tumor is mostly a genetic lottery with good odds (1/3). Maybe these placebo diets can help, ask Dr. Mercola

jrapdx said...

Kind of late in the day, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

I've studied this stuff for decades (literally) and AFAIK the data is ambiguous re: ideal level of protein intake. Generally 1g/kg body weight is considered a "moderate" protein intake. So a person weighing 154lb == 70kg needs 70g protein a day. Most don't get enough by that measure.

So yeah, it's possible to overdo any good thing, but in today's world the biggest nutritional anti-pattern is the absurd levels of sugars in nearly everything, and the sodium content of many prepared foods is way more than ideal. Start with limiting those things and worry about the rest later.

tim in vermont said...

"The vast majority of Americans already get more than the recommended daily amounts of protein from food, they say - Assertion.

and there are no rigorous long-term studies to tell us how much protein is too much." - Evidence...

Am I the only one who laughed out loud?

HT said...

That's interesting. Andrew Weil says Americans do not lack in protein and conscious efforts to increase it are a waste of time. He has hinted we get too much, but I never read if he laid out implications like cancer.

What would Taubes say? Worth a dig in to find out.

HT said...

I don't always believe what the textbooks say, but the connection with cancer is apparently not new.

Function of protein:
support growth & maintenance (protein turnover); enzymes; hormones; build antibodies; maintain fluid & electrolyte balance; maintain acid-base balance; help blood to clot; provide energy & glucose (but not really their job) when there is insufficient carb & fat. Energy – to use for energy, you have to remove N, but N is valuable, so protein is “an expensive form of energy.” So, “eat enough calories to spare protein.” We cannot store amino acids. They’re used either for body protein or enzymes, & remaining are stored as fat. AA wasted when: energy lacking (uses protein); protein is overabundant; an amino acid is oversupplied; quality of diet’s protein is too low (too few essential aa’s).

Too much: kidney stones; cancer; obesity; osteoporosis.

Bob said...

To HT,

As far as I know, Taubes has never specifically addressed protein, concentrating more on carbs vs fat. He is a frank admirer of Robert Atkins, who famously championed the low carb, high protein, high fat diet for weight loss.

There is a distinct subset of the low carb community that supports protein as well as carb restriction. This video of a Ron Rosedale talk is quite compelling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yv-M-5-s9B0

"and there are no rigorous long-term studies to tell us how much protein is too much." - Evidence..."

I am pretty convinced there are practically no rigorous long-term studies in nutrition, period. It's far too complicated to do such things, which was essentially the point of Good Calories, Bad Calories.

HT said...

Did you read GC, BC? I did. Quite a read. He does cite a lot of studies. I'm not sure I agree with your last point.

richardsson said...

Everyone should wear a size 8 shoe. Size 8 shoes are good for most people. You'll feel better, your feet will look better, you'll live longer. Strangers will come up to you and say, "Hey, nice shoes there." Yeah, right.

mikee said...

Not only should the shoes be a size 8 for everybody, the only style available should be a nice slip-on penny loafer. In cordovan.

Any complaints can be directed to the foot-removal clinic at headquarters.

Bob said...

HT,

I did indeed read GCBC. In fact, I reread different parts of it from time to time. I even bought a few copies to give to people.

Perhaps I overstated that Taubes's essential point was that nutritional studies are so bad. But it is a point he repeatedly makes, so I know it's an important Taubes theme.

For example,

https://youtu.be/U12VkOCSHk0, especially at about 8:20.