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Study: Meat, Dairy May Be As Detrimental To Health As Smoking

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(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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(CBS NEWS) – Eating a diet heavy on meat and cheese may be as harmful to you as smoking a cigarette, researchers claim.

A new study, published in Cell Metabolism shows that middle-aged people who eat a diet high in animal proteins from milk, meat and cheese are more likely to die of cancer than someone who eats a low-protein diet.

The research also showed the people who ate lots of meat and dairy were more likely to die at an earlier age.

“There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple. But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive to be 100?” study co-author Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones professor of biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute in Los Angeles, said in a press release.

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For this study, researchers looked at 6,318 adults over the age of 50. On average, about 16 percent of their total daily calories came from protein. Two-thirds of that amount was from animal protein.

People who ate high-protein diets were 74 percent more likely to die before the end of the study than those who ate low-protein diets. Decreasing protein consumption from moderate to low levels reduced early mortality risk by 21 percent.

The team found that plant-based proteins were not as detrimental to health as animal based proteins.

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