High Protein Diets Cause Cancer…

I checked my Facebook this morning and to my dismay, I had been tagged in 3 posts/comments that related to a recent study that you may have heard of in the news, newspapers, Facebook or some outer media outlet.

What I had been tagged in is yet another case of the media sensationalising some stupid correlation=causation study.


The study was taken over the past 15 yrs on a particular subject group. The media interpreted the results of the study incorrectly and reported that it suggests that eating meat or ‘excess protein’ has carcinogenic effects that outweigh smoking 20 cigarettes per day.

The above ‘conclusion’ is:

1. Not what the study concluded and

2. Even if it did, the study was so flawed that it doesn’t even matter what they concluded.

Here’s a quick run-down:

The correlation was made between people of varying ages and their protein intake.

They were given no other nutritional recommendations as far as I can figure out.

They had no control groups in place.

I could go into the mechanism they speak of about tumour growth etc. but that is unnecessary because there are more entertaining things to talk about.

The funny part is that ‘high protein intake’ is defined as ~20% of total kcal’s coming from protein, which is not high at all.

It is, however, the average for somebody who nails burgers, chips and beer every day and eats fast foods and makes bad food choices on a daily basis. Herein lies the problem – the people who subconsciously have ‘high protein intakes’ also, on average, eat shit all day.

So in other words, it was not the protein intake that caused the increased incidence in cancer it was the other lifestyle choices that people who happen to have a high protein intake that caused it.

The people who ‘happen’ to have a lower protein intake may be the types of people who would opt for a salad and water instead of beer and burgers and tend not to go on junk food binges.

If the diets were structured and contained: High-quality meat and vegetables, minimised sugar and overly processed crap then I guarantee the study would not have shown the shit, inconclusive and useless results that it did here.

That is not to say that eating good quality meat and vegetables is going to cure cancer either. That would be a ridiculous thing to say but it will definitely not increase the incidence of cancer like the media is suggesting.

How does this apply here and why do I care?

It is annoying because it causes people to make bad decisions with their diet. Some uninformed people will see this information and push their steaks aside and start eating bread and cereals again. This is not a ‘personal trainer bias’ fuelled attack. The study is just fundamentally flawed, and it’s genuinely harmful as it will cause some people to cut protein intake and eat more sugar and wheat

And get sick
And fat
And diabetic
And eventually dead…

One of my friends added this earlier while we were discussing it:

“It would be like me performing a study on the lads I played football with. I could get it to show that knee injuries cause weight gain if I chose to”

He is saying that, if he wanted to, of course, he could perform a study that would ‘prove’ that damaged/injured knees cause people to gain weight. When, in fact, eating too much and not playing sport is the cause of weight gain. He just HAPPENS to have a dodgy knee and so do a lot of players on his old football team and they all gained weight because they stopped playing, not necessarily because of their knees.

Make sense? He is correlating the bad knees with weight gain but they didn’t cause the weight gain.

My own personal analogy was:

“People who drown have been shown to have drank too much water… therefore drinking too much water causes death… i.e. drink less water…”

All of this aside, if we were to listen to all of the sensationalised bullshit that the media portrays, we would literally have to sit in our house with a bag over our head doing nothing for the rest of our miserable life.

• Your toothpaste can make you fat

• Your tap water can make you complacent

• If you breath the air outside you are probably breathing in carcinogens but they are probably inside too.. You’ll need to stop breathing altogether to be completely safe.


To conclude I would like to quote Waterford Whispers’ blog:

“We decided to test every fucking thing that may pose a possible risk of cancer and we were not all that astonished to find the results were conclusive:

The study team found 68.4 per cent of those who had eaten, drank, smelled and touched stuff, like all the time, contracted at least one form of cancer compared to 0.003 per cent of those who didn’t do any of these things at all.”


Bryan Kavanagh BSc. CSCS


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