Eating Well

Loading Up On Meat And Cheese Quadruples Cancer Risk

Could it be true thadq-menu-food_single_cheeseburger_02t eating a high protein diet, with lots of meat and cheese, quadruples your risk of dying of cancer? That’s the opinion of researchers at the University of Southern California, who studied levels of the growth hormone IGF-I, which has been linked to cancer susceptibility, in more than 6,000 people. A USC news release reports that the researchers found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet — a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking. They also found that middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources — including meat, milk and cheese — were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. Wait there’s more: Even those who ate a moderate amount of protein were three times more likely to die of cancer than those who ate a low-protein diet in middle age. Overall, even the small change of decreasing protein intake from moderate levels to low levels reduced likelihood of early death by 21 percent. So what exactly is a high-protein diet? Good question.The researchers defined a high-protein diet as deriving at least 20 percent of calories from protein, including both plant-based and animal-based protein. A “moderate” protein diet includes 10 to 19 percent of calories from protein, and a low-protein diet includes less than 10 percent protein. Read more from USC.


  1. So you can either eat a lot of protein and get cancer, or eat a lot of carbs and get fat and get diabetes and heart disease. I guess I’ll take the protein. At least that way you can be strong and fit and enjoy yourself before you die a horrible death.

    • Quacks have been giving carbs a bad name. Research has shown that:
      The more whole grains you eat, the less likely you are to get type two diabetes. Vegetarians have decreased heart disease, lower cholesterol, and live longer than meat eaters. Vegans (no animal products) live even longer. Their diet might typically contain 70-80 percent carbs and they have lower body weight. There goes your theory that carbs cause obesity and heart disease. Granted, I’m not talking twinkles and coke or other highly processed garbage carbs. Google plant positive videos for research-based info on a healthy diet.

  2. I’m going to stop eating anything!

  3. This summary of the USC news release neglected to point out the important distinction between animal- vs. plant-based proteins.

    “Crucially, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins. … suggesting that animal protein is the main culprit.”

    Also it’s amazing to me how the conventional wisdom regarding proteins and carbs is flipped from the reality: Having too much protein in one’s diet is harmful; abundant complex carbohydrates do not cause obesity.

    During my 14 months as a vegan, I’m finding that discussions about dietary habits are like discussions about religion, quite polarizing.

  4. Jeff Matheney

    It has always been my understanding, that 100% of all living matter,from one cause or another, die 100% of the time.

  5. There was no differentiation among the various kinds of meat. So apparently poultry, pork and fish are all EQUALLY as dangerous as beef??

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