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Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Low-Protein is Good BS

Long-Term Low-Protein Diet Reduces Markers of Cancer Risk

Does Too Much Protein In The Diet Increase Cancer Risk?

Ahh yes, back to damning the gluttony of us barbarian meat-eaters while extolling the virtues of a vegetarian lifestyle living in peace and harmony with plants and animals alike. These two articles discuss a recent study that comes to the conclusion that eating less protein lowers the risk of cancer. Let's look at some of the details:

The study involved three groups of people. The first ate a low-protein, low-calorie, raw food vegetarian diet and was made up of 21 lean men and women. Another group consisted of 21 lean subjects who did regular endurance running, averaging about 48 miles per week. The runners ate a standard Western diet, consuming more calories and protein than group one. The third group included 21 sedentary people who also consumed a standard Western diet, higher in sugars, processed refined grains and animal products. The subjects were matched for age, sex and other demographic factors, and no one smoked or had diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, lung disease or other chronic illness.
Fontana and colleagues found significantly lower blood levels of plasma insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the low-protein diet group than in either the equally lean runners or the sedentary people eating a standard Western diet.
The average body mass index (BMI) in the low-protein, low-calorie group was 21.3. BMI averaged 21.1 among the runners and 26.5 among those who were sedentary. BMI is a measurement of weight divided by height squared. People with a BMI greater than 25 are considered overweight.

Is it just me or does it sound like they are comparing a great number of variables and coming to a conclusion about only one of them? So let's first look at the obvious variables:
- Fruit and vegetable intake: The vegetarians would obviously consume more.
- Animal product intake: The vegetarians would obviously consume less.
- Protein intake: Details above.
- Raw food: The vegetarian group was made up of raw-foodists.
- Different body-mass index: The vegetarians and runners were underweight while the control group was overweight.

So which variable caused the decrease in cancer risk? Could it be the extra vitamins and minerals the vegetarians took in from their higher fruit and vegetable intake? Could it be that the "Western style diet" (i.e., standard American crap) was higher in sugar from junk food? What types of animal products did they eat? Was the meat grain-fed and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones or natural, grass-fed meat? Do they count foods like salami, cured bacon, and other meats loaded with nitrates and nitrites, both known cancer-causers, as "animal products"? Was the "Western diet" higher in refined carbohydrates? What about fat? What was the comparison of the level of trans fat intake between the two groups? What about vegetable oil intake? Did the Westerners use vegetable oils in all of their polyunsaturated goodness with their known immunosuppressive properties instead of those "dangerous" saturated fats?

See, if you want to do a study, you need to set it up to look at ONLY THE VARIABLE YOU WANT TO EVALUATE! It is irresponsible science to have a study with 10+ variables and come to a conclusion for only one. It reeks of "this is what we wanted to find and lo, we found it." How come we never see a comparison of vegetarian diets to truly healthy carnivorous diets? When will we see a study comparing a group of vegetarians to a group of people eating a Hunter-Gatherer style diet with lots of fresh unprocessed meats, vegetables, fruits, fats from nuts and oils (olive, coconut, palm), and little in the way of grains or dairy? We probably won't; those pushing the vegetarian agenda don't want to compare their diet to a truly healthy way to live, only to the lowest common denominator. Yes, a vegetarian diet is likely healthier than a standard American diet. But the standard American diet is so woefully inadequate as to make this comparison laughable. Anyone still want to presume that it was really the protein intake?