Doctor's statement in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reveals dark side of low-carb diets

March 09, 2004

WASHINGTON-- In its current issue, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings has published a letter explaining that the reason low-carb dieters often lose weight and sometimes show improvements in their cholesterol, blood sugars, and blood pressures is because they are, in essence, sickened by the diet. John McDougall, M.D., an advisory board member of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), explains in his letter that low-carb diets can throw people into a metabolic state called ketosis that also occurs during severe illness. This diet-induced condition resembles the common side effects of cancer chemotherapy with fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite for many people.

People on low-carb diets who become ill enough to experience loss of appetite are taking in less fat and cholesterol, since they are consuming less food overall. It is this same mechanism that results in cholesterol levels falling in cancer patients; however, no doctor brags about weight loss and lower cholesterol caused by the toxic drugs used in chemotherapy.

Numerous studies show that many high-fat, low-carbohydrate dieters risk clogged arteries, heart attack, colon cancer, and kidney failure. Studies also show that even one fatty meal can increase the risk of a cardiac event immediately following the meal.

"A better approach," states Dr. McDougall, "is to encourage people to eat foods that promote both ideal body weight and health--those from a high-complex carbohydrate, low-fat diet. You can see this for yourself when you look at various populations worldwide. For example, people living mostly on high-carbohydrate rice and vegetable dishes in Asia are trim throughout their lives with almost no risk of heart disease, diabetes or our common cancers."
-end-
For an interview with Dr. McDougall, or a copy of the letter appearing in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, please contact Jeanne S. McVey at 202-686-2210, ext. 316, or jeannem@pcrm.org.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, especially good nutrition. PCRM also conducts clinical research studies, opposes unethical human experimentation, and promotes alternatives to animal research.

Jeanne Stuart McVey
Communications Liaison
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20016
202-686-2210, ext. 316 / 415-509-1833
202-686-2818 (fax)


Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

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