Eating too much protein like meat and dairy products is just as bad a smoking. Over eating animal protein feeds tumors in addition to accelerating the aging process in people 50-plus, according to a recent study. High protein diets are just as harmful as smoking.

Consuming too much protein can lead to headaches, toxic build up, and harm the kidneys. Cell Metabolism published a study that protein lovers were 74 percent more likely to die from disease linked to high-protein diets compared to those that has a more low-protein diet.

University of Southern California’s professor Valter Longo, who co-authored the study, said Americans are eating twice the amount of protein needed and should lower intake gradually. Longo pointed that IGF-I affects healthy cells, but caused DNA damage and cancer cells to grow. Protein influences the levels of the growth hormone IGF-I. People who had high-protein diets were nine percent likely to die from cancer than those with a low-protein diet. 

“The research shows that a low-protein diet in middle age is useful for preventing cancer and overall mortality, through a process that involves regulating IGF-I and possibly insulin levels. However, we also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid a low-protein diet to allow the maintenance of healthy weight and protection from frailty,” co-author Eileen ileen Crimmins, of the AARP Chair in Gerontology at the University of Southern California said in a press statement.

Longo said that everyone will have a pre-cancer cell or cancer cell at one point and the question is how it progresses. One major factor is an excessive amount of protein. He suggested that a 130-pound person should ingest 45 to 50 grams of protein per day.

What can you do? Add more plant-based protein to your plate. Kale, tofu, lentils, and nuts like almonds. For dairy try almond, soy, or coconut milk.

“There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple,” Longo pointed out. “But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive."

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