New study finds meat and cheese may be just as bad as smoking

Watch your meat intake in mid-life. Credit: Metro File
Watch your meat intake in mid-life.
Credit: Metro File

A diet high in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times likelier to die of cancer than someone who eats less meat, a new study has found.

Researchers at USC put eating meat and cheese on par with smoking. Those with animal-heavy diets were also 74 percent likelier to die from any cause over the nearly two-decade study period than those without, and several times more likely to die from diabetes.

Interestingly, animal proteins were found to benefit people 65 and older because they contain the growth hormone IGF-I, which decreases after age 65 and is linked to frailty and muscle loss.

“The majority of Americans are eating about twice as much protein as they should, and it seems that the best change would be to lower the daily intake of all proteins but especially animal-derived proteins,” says Valtar Longo, the Edna M. Jones professor of biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute.

So maybe hold off on that burger for now, but feel free to dig in when you hit retirement age.



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