Woah. This one’s rather big…

silviarita / Pixabay

I generally avoid controversy. It’s probably middle-child syndrome. 🙂

In the past I’ve simply listened to my husband’s cardiologist who has more than embraced Dr. Dean Ornish’s research, always telling us to “stay the course” because Ornish’s plant based diet is so heart healthy, so solid, long term research backing up its claims, it’s worth it to keep going.

But after my cancer, I admit I’ve occasionally been tempted to alter our dietary course. Eating fiber is… challenging, considering I lost a good portion of my colon.

So, I’ve watched people, sometimes relatives, embrace a low-carb regime, lose weight, and sally forth with such confidence… sometimes it seemed too good to be true. They hail the health benefits of low carb. Sometimes their blood numbers improve. They appear to have similar results without wrestling restaurant menus.

But, then I read something this: Low carbohydrate diets are unsafe and should be avoided

My first thought? “Bah. The plant based docs are on the move again.” I’m waiting for something outside the plant based sphere.. Then I checked out the source: The European Society of Cardiology.

Huh. I Googled ’em. Turns out they’re legit. Totally legit. (I know. Wikipedia. But feel free to check on ’em yourself.)

Here’s what they say:

Study author Professor Maciej Banach, of the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, said: “We found that people who consumed a low carbohydrate diet were at greater risk of premature death. Risks were also increased for individual causes of death including coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. These diets should be avoided.”

Wow. They go on to say low carbing is good in the short term, the good news breaks down pretty fast.

Professor Banach said: “Low carbohydrate diets might be useful in the short term to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose control, but our study suggests that in the long-term they are linked with an increased risk of death from any cause, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer.”

Oh… and check out the sample size:

This study prospectively examined the relationship between low carbohydrate diets, all-cause death, and deaths from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), and cancer in a nationally representative sample of 24,825 participants of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 1999 to 2010. Compared to participants with the highest carbohydrate consumption, those with the lowest intake had a 32% higher risk of all-cause death over an average 6.4-year follow-up. In addition, risks of death from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer were increased by 51%, 50%, and 35%, respectively.

Ah. OK. Large sample size. But what about replication and length of study?

The results were confirmed in a meta-analysis of seven prospective cohort studies with 447,506 participants and an average follow-up 15.6 years, which found 15%, 13%, and 8% increased risks in total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality with low (compared to high) carbohydrate diets (see figure for total mortality).

A meta-analysis! This is some pretty strong evidence! I’m pretty jazzed right now… But it gets better:


DISCLOSURES: No disclosures to be reported related to the results of this analysis.

This study is well worth exploring. Hop to the source material to view the complete release, graphs and everything!

Closer to home, I’ve got an interesting project coming up. I think you’ll like it. Watch for the big announcement later this week… 😛


This entry was posted in In the News, On My Heart and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.