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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Study: Low-protein diets alter cancer risks


Reuters Health: Researchers studying a group of vegetarians who'd maintained a diet relatively low in protein and calories found that they had lower blood levels of several hormones and other substances that have been tied to certain cancers.

A comparison group of distance runners also had lower levels of most of these substances compared with sedentary adults who followed a typical American diet -- that is, relatively high in protein from meat and dairy.
However, the low-protein group also had a potential advantage over the runners: lower levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a body protein that helps cells grow and multiply. High IGF-1 levels in the blood have been linked to breast, prostate and colon cancers.

It's not clear that this all translates into lower odds of developing cancer, but the findings are a "first step" in showing how lower-protein diets might alter cancer risk, according to the researchers.

"I believe our findings suggest that protein intake may be very important in regulating cancer risk," lead study author Dr. Luigi Fontana, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a statement.

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