What’s Happening: Protein is Deadly?

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You’ve probably heard: there’s a new study supposedly showing that a high (over 20% of calories) animal protein intake is as dangerous as smoking. That sounds like bad news on the Paleo front!

But before you throw out your eggs and start stocking up on tofu, take a look at the problems with this particular research:

Zoe Harcombe points out that

  • This is a survey study. It identified an association. Association does not prove causation. Wearing snow pants is associated with wearing mittens; this does not mean that the mittens cause the snow pants.
  • The study reports relative risk rather than absolute risk.
  • The lead researcher has a massive conflict of interest: he’s the founder of a plant-based meal replacement product.

Dr. Briffa also focuses on

  • The imprecision of dietary recall surveys. Everybody lies on dietary recall surveys – and not intentionally; most of us just struggle to remember precisely what we ate and in what amounts at every meal in the past 24 hours. So how do we know this study was actually an accurate measure of anything? We don’t.
  • The plot twist at the end of the study: in people over 65, protein was actually associated with a lower risk of death.

Supplement evaluation site Examine has an even more nitty-gritty breakdown if you’re still worried.

The upshot: this is a very interesting piece of preliminary survey research which may or may not point to any kind of causal association. It doesn’t demonstrate causation as it stands. And it doesn’t present any serious reason to change your diet, start restricting protein, or stop eating meat.

With that out of the way, take a look at what else was going on this week:

Man squatting

Do you still have worries about animal protein? Is there something in the study that you haven’t seen addressed? Let us know on Facebook or Google+!

P.S. Have a look at our Paleo Recipe Book. It's a cookbook we've created to help you eat the best Paleo food. It contains over 370 recipes and covers everything you need.

+ Your Guide to Paleo, our handy Paleo guide, is now also available. It'll help you avoid common pitfalls and reach your health and weight loss goals faster.

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