New study cautions against low-carbohydrate diets

Eating a diet which includes both fiber and yogurt could reduce the risk of lung cancer

New European research presented on Tuesday at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2018 cautions against following a low carbohydrate diet, describing them as unsafe.

Carried out by researchers at the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, the new large-scale study set out to investigate the relationship between low carbohydrate diets, all-cause death, and deaths from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), and cancer.

The researchers gathered data from a nationally representative sample of 24,825 participants with an average age of 47.6 years who had taken part in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2010.

Over the course of the study they found that those who consumed the lowest amount of carbohydrates had a 32 percent higher risk of death from all causes when compared to those who ate the most carbs.

In addition, risk of death from coronary heart disease was increased by 51 percent, the risk of death from cerebrovascular disease by 50 percent, and the risk of death from cancer by 35 percent.

The results also remained significant even after the team had taken into account other potentially influencing factors.

The findings were also confirmed in a further analysis which looked at seven studies with a total of 447,506 participants. After an average follow-up of 15.6 years, those who followed a low-carb diet showed a 15 percent increased risk of death, a 13 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and an 8 percent higher risk of death from cancer than those who followed a high-carb diet.

Study author Professor Maciej Banach commented on the findings saying, "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."

"The reduced intake of fiber and fruits and increased intake of animal protein, cholesterol, and saturated fat with these diets may play a role. Differences in minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals might also be involved," he added.

"The findings suggest that low carbohydrate diets are unsafe and should not be recommended." 

A diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat has previously been suggested as an effective way of losing weight, however the long-term safety of these diets has been subject to controversy, with previous studies producing conflicting results as to their influence on the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and death.

The ESC Congress 2018 started Saturday, August 25 and runs through Wednesday, August 29 in Munich, Germany.