Blog 2.1: Animal Protein
On the previous blog 2.0, we listed the many harmful effects of animal foods. In today’s blog we’ll look specifically at the harmful effects of animal protein.
Animal protein, regardless of source, whether it is muscle protein from meat, seafood or poultry, or egg white protein from eggs or protein found in dairy, leads to increased risk for cancers. In a recent study, the risk from high protein consumption in middle age was compared to cigarette smoking. Both individuals with high protein consumption and smokers compared with nonsmokers, have a four fold increased risk of dying from cancer. https://www.livescience.com/43839-too-much-protein-help-cancers-grow.html
One of the ways that animal protein is thought to increase the risk for developing and dying from cancer is through increased production of Insulin Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a hormone produced by our liver which not only promotes development of cancer but also fosters its growth, proliferation and metastasis. Animal protein not plant protein has been shown to raise serum levels of this hormone. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12433724
Animal protein, (meat, dairy or egg protein) results in increased stress on the kidneys by a process known as hyperfiltration. The increased workload on the kidneys from diets high in animal protein leads to impaired renal function and ultimately chronic kidney disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21880837
In addition, animal protein increases calcium excretion resulting in increased incidence of kidney stones, another potential mechanism of renal function impairment.
Diet high in animal protein is associated with non alcoholic fatty liver disease, condition associated with fat deposition in the liver. Fatty liver is a precursor to development of cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
The association of heart disease and cancer with saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol is perhaps better publicized. Often times, individuals are under the wrong assumption that switching to leaner cuts of meat, or substituting poultry, seafood and egg whites is a healthy choice. In this post, we wanted to highlight that animal protein cannot be considered a healthy alternative for the reasons discussed above. Furthermore, harmful effects of animal protein in general are independent of the type of animal protein(i.e meat, egg or dairy protein). This, however, should not be surprising since animal proteins, regardless of source, are much more similar in composition to each other than plant proteins.