Experts have warned that the Atkins diet poses higher cardiovascular risks for women.
Dr Robert Atkins opened his first weight loss clinic in New York 30 years ago and his high protein, low carbohydrate has been the source of heated debate.
A study completed by the university of Athens found that an additional 4-5 cases of cardiovascular disease occur each year for every 10,000 women on the Atkins diet, This means that women following the Atkins diet are at a 28% increased risk for ischemic heart disease, stroke and peripheral arterial disease. The study involved 43,396 Swedish women aged between 30-49 years who completed a thorough dietary questionnaire and were followed up for 15 years.
The researchers measured diet on the low carbohydrate-high protein (LCHP) score in which a score of 2 corresponded to very high carbohydrate and low protein consumption and 20 related to very low carbohydrate and high protein consumption. The team found that every 1-10 carbohydrate intake decrease or protein intake increase was linked with a significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The equivalent 2-unit increase in LCHP score was linked to a 1.05-fold increased incidence of cardiovascular disease.
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that the unadjusted analysis revealed that when compared to an LCHP score of 6 or less, the risk for cardiovascular disease increased by 13% for women with a score of 10-12, 54% for a score of 13-15 and 60% for a score of 16 or higher. After adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors, a 5% increased risk for a cardiovascular event or death was linked with every 2-point increase in LCHP scores. The authors wrote that this 5% increase was caused by a daily 20-g carbohydrate reduction, the equivalent of a small bread roll, and a daily 5-g protein increase- the equivalent of one boiled egg.
The study concluded that LCHP diets followed regularly and “without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates or the source of proteins” are linked to cardiovascular risk. The team noted that the possible short-term benefits of LCHO diets to control weight or insulin resistance should be investigated further and suggested that short-term benefits seem irrelevant in the face of increasing evidence of higher morbitity and mortality from CVD In the long-term.
When introduced Dr Atkins claimed that his diet was a revolutionary step forward in the concept of dieting. His many critics argued that his diet was a potentially dangerous way of eating that can produce serious long-term health problems. The diet produces a condition known as Ketosis, which causes increased levels of Ketones (Acid) in the blood. When Ketone levels in the blood become dangerously high, a condition known as Ketoacidosis can develop. Ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening illness which can lead to coma and death if left untreated.