Atkins Diet Cancer Study More Sensationalism Than Substance

Filed under: Study — @ June 27, 2007

Harry Flint from Rowett looks at what happens in the gut on low-carb

There’s been BIG NEWS about low-carb diets out of the research community over the past week or so–well, let’s just say the media has trumpeted it loud and proud as earth-shattering damnation of livin’ la vida low-carb.

Why would ANYBODY in their right mind go on the Atkins diet after reading about what it does to your gut?! Man, that low-carb must be really bad news if it can cause cancer. Who would even risk doing THAT diet ever again after this research proves it? I’m so glad I read that headline.

You may laugh at that, but I’m telling you that’s the exact conclusion and reaction that most uninformed people will make to this news about livin’ la vida low-carb. It’s just too bad nobody in the media has the courage to do their due diligence and tell the truth about this so-called study.

Lead researcher Harry Flint, professor in the Gut Health Programme at the UK-based Rowett Research Institute, and his fellow researchers observed a mere 19 “healthy but obese men” who had a BMI ranging from between 30-42 and placed them on intermittent diets consisting of various amounts of carbohydrates over three distinct phases of the study.

Here are those three phases in the order they were done:

PHASE 1–The men ate a very high-carb diet consisting of 400g carbs daily for three days in a row at the beginning of the study. This was the number of carbohydrates that is supposedly “needed to maintain their weight” (don’t even get me started on that asinine statement–if I ate that many carbs today, I’d gained 15 pounds by tomorrow morning! EEEK!).

PHASE 2–Then, for the next month the men cut their carb intake down by 60 percent to 160g daily. This was still a high-carb diet, but a little closer to what is deemed “healthy” by most of the government dietary recommendations.

PHASE 3–Finally, the men had their dietary carb intake slashed again for the next four weeks to 85 percent of the PHASE 2 carb allowance and just 6 percent of the original number of carbs consumed by the study participants in PHASE 1. This level of carbs most closely resembles the Induction phase of the Atkins diet of the three phases.

During this 9-week experiment, Flint and his researchers took stool samples from the study participants to measure for bacteria and the level of butyrate, a fatty acid chemical prevalent in the gut that has been found to reduce cancer in rats. What they supposedly found in this research is what precipitated all the news headlines.

According to the researchers, there was a FOUR-FOLD decrease in the amount of butyrate in the study participants after their four-week stint on PHASE 3, or the “Atkins” stage of the research.

Flint was shocked because this change in butyrate was “the largest ever reported in a human dietary trial.” This was the first such study on the impact of livin’ la vida low-carb on bacteria in the gut.

Click here to read more about Flint’s so-called “study” and to see ten reasons why I believe this research is more sensationalism than substance.


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