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Animal protein as bad as smoking?! – A rebuttal from Zoe Harcombe

Published on March 6, 2014,

The media is suddenly full of stories suggesting animal protein and diets containing meat and cheese ‘could be as harmful as smoking’. It’s all because of a study reported in Cell Metabolism and, as so often, the reports and what was actually found are a long way apart…

PIIS155041311400062X.fx1.lrgZoe Harcombe has published an excellent analysis of the research and its short-comings. Most crazily, to me, she points out that the study found no overall association between protein intake and mortality, but only when they split out age groups did they see a pattern of increased mortality in the 50-65 age group. However, according to the law of averages, this must mean the opposite, namely a pattern of reduced mortality in the 65+ age group. So the study could have been reported in the media as “protein will save you in old age” (see graphic from the research which seems to confirm this).

Here’s an extract and link to Zoe’s article…

Animal protein as bad as smoking?!On March 4th 2014, articles started to appear on line. ” Animal protein-rich diets could be as harmful to health as smoking” said the Guardian. The Daily Mail captured the age dimension more accurately with ” Eating lots of meat and cheese in middle age is ‘as deadly as SMOKING ‘”. The source of the media headlines is this article in Cell Metabolism. The full article is available on free view. The Study The study reviewed data for 6,381 adults aged 50 and over (average age 65) using American public health data (NHANES III). The participants were followed for up to 18 years, giving 83,308 person years worth of data. Average calorie intake was reported as 1,823 per day (which already suggests under-reporting). This was 51% carbohydrate (by calorie intake); 33% fat intake and 16% protein intake. Most of this protein intake (11 of the 16%) was reported as protein from animal sources.

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You can read the original research here: Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population


Video: Zoe Harcombe on the cause of the obesity epidemic and what can be done about it

Published on September 26, 2012,

The excellent low carb diet blog Ketopia posted this YouTube video of obesity researcher Zoe Harcombe giving a superb lecture to Cardiff University on the cause of the obesity epidemic and what can be done about it. It’s about an hour long and well worth making time for. The link below also gives access to the slides from the lecture…


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Since Australopithecus Lucy first walked upright , the human race evolved for 3.5 million years without an obesity problem. Then, in the last quarter of the last century, we managed to create an obesity epidemic.

Author and obesity researcher, Zoë Harcombe, presents the evidence for a smoking gun – the cause of this obesity epidemic. The journey will take us through misapplications of thermodynamics, incorrect assumptions about calories, macro nutrient confusion and conflicts of interest.

There is a way to reverse the obesity epidemic, but first we need to question everything that we think we know about dieting.

Zoe’s PowerPoint Presentation from her lecture on Tuesday 7th February [2012] is now availalble below. The references on the bottom left hand corner of each slide are numbered. The numbers correspond to 400 references posted here ( with links to original articles and pages wherever possible for your convenience.

Here is the link to the Powerpoint slides

Leaping to the defence of eggs – two leading bloggers hit back

Published on August 16, 2012,

The mainstream media recently gave much attention to research report which they claimed suggested egg yolks could be linked to heart disease (see end of article for links). However, it seems the conclusions raised were based on bad science and misleading reporting. Now we have are two compelling rebuttals from Zoe Harcombe and then from Mark Sissons…


This is from Zoe Harcombe

Egg yolks linked to heart disease” screamed the headlines on Monday 6th August 2012.  The newspaper article came from a journal article called “Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque“.

I really have got better things to do than to continually dissect articles from so called scientists, but, when the item under attack is the super food called egg, someone has to leap to its defence. So here goes….

More at: Egg yolk consumption, carotid plaque & bad science


This is from Mark Sisson

This past weekend, amidst all the Ancestral Health Symposium madness, I caught the headline while flicking through my phone for a few brief seconds. Didn’t open it up, though. Just cruised on past. I’d hoped to just forget about it, to ignore it, to banish it to the back of my mind where half truths and junk studies go to die. And truth be told, I pretty much had forgotten about it until I checked my email to find a ton of frantic emails from readers wondering if their beloved and dependable egg yolk breakfasts were killing them faster than the cigarettes they don’t smoke. What? You didn’t hear?

More at: Are Eggs Really As Bad For Your Arteries as Cigarettes?


Have a good read and I think you’ll not only be entirely reassured about the nutritional benefits of eggs but also rather annoyed at the way the scientists involved and the mainstream media have handled this issue.

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