Eating animal protein is linked to early death and cancer

Posted on the 5th March 2014

New research published in the journal Cell Metabolism shows that eating high levels of protein from animal sources – such as meat, milk and eggs – increases the risk of death from cancer by four times and the overall risk of early death by 75 per cent in people aged 50-65.

The research, conducted by Prof. Valter Longo of the University of Southern California, followed more that 6,000 people aged 50+ for 18 years. It revealed that those aged 50-65 who obtained more than 20 per cent of their total calories from protein had the highest risk of early death, particularly from cancer, but that this risk was reduced for those who ate less animal protein and was ‘abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived.’ The relationship between high protein intake and early death was only reversed in those aged 65+ due to their increased frailty and loss of body mass.

The consumption of animal derived protein was found to be associated with an increase in the growth hormone IGF-1 within the body, which has been linked to raised cancer risk and promoting cancerous cell growth by previous studies.

Although the research has attracted criticism from various quarters, Animal Aid welcomes the news as further confirmation of the health benefits of the plant-based diet. For many years Animal Aid has been promoting the vegan diet as both healthier and more compassionate, pointing to previous research that has demonstrated the reduced risk of certain types of cancer – particularly bowel cancer – and other diet-related illnesses.

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