AtkinsFacts.org Objectionably Asserts Diet is Bad for Heart
Atkins Ignores "More Important" Risk Factors which Worsen on Atkins
According to your website, "Dr. Atkins does not believe that cholesterol elevations are as important a risk factor as... homocysteine and C-reactive protein." It is interesting to note, then, that even research he funded shows that both these risk factors worsen on the Atkins Diet.
"A byproduct of defective protein metabolism," one can read on your website, "elevated homocysteine levels are a powerful marker of heart disease and stroke risk." Homocysteine has also linked to birth defects, fatal blood clots, depression osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's Disease.
One can also read on your website that "The Atkins Nutritional Approach(tm), in fact, is ideal for moderating homocysteine levels..." However, of the 34 studies you cite as "supporting" the Atkins Diet, only one study measured homocysteine levels, and in that study Atkins followers suffered a highly significant worsening of their homocysteine levels.
The American Heart Association has recommended a homocysteine level under 10 (mcmol/L). The Atkins website agrees: "Above 10 mcmol/L indicates an increasing risk of cardiovascular disease..." Atkins notes high homocysteine may also be related to cancer.
So what happened to people put on your diet? In just 6 weeks, their homocysteine levels rose from 9.5 to 10.6. In their conclusion, the researchers deemed this elevation "concerning."
In the year-long study that compared your diet to a low fat vegetarian (vegan) diet, homocysteine levels again tended to rise on the Atkins Diet, yet fall on the vegan diet. In an article entitled "Vegan Diet-Based Lifestyle Program Rapidly Lowers Homocysteine Levels," after just one week on a vegan diet, those with elevated homocysteine levels had their levels drop from an average of 11.3 down to 9.2, a highly significant drop of 19% in just a single week.
Homocysteine, a neurotoxic and vasculotoxic compound linked to dementia, miscarriages and stroke, and which Atkins himself deemed a more important risk factor than cholesterol, became further elevated in both of the two studies which measured homocysteine levels on the Atkins Diet.[1087,1088]
Atkins also felt that C-reactive protein (CRP) was a more important risk factor than elevated cholesterol levels. "Chronically inflamed blood vessels are widely regarded as part of the atherosclerotic disease process," reads your website. "Research has found that high levels of... C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, increased the risk of heart disease by four and one-half times." C-Reactive protein has also been associated with stroke risk as well.
Like LDL cholesterol, simply losing weight should lower your CRP levels. How much CRP you have circulating in your blood has been found to be "strictly related to body fatness." Yet, every single published study "supporting" Atkins showed that the Atkins Diet was ineffective in lowering CRP.[1093,1094,1095] In fact, one of them showed that after just 6 weeks on the Atkins Diet CRP levels tended to more than double despite a loss of body fat.
One unpublished meeting abstract on your website did show a decrease in CRP levels on the Atkins Diet, but two others did not.[1098,1099]. The year-long study that compared your diet to the Ornish Diet, Weight Watchers and The Zone Diet found that C-reactive protein levels were significantly lowered by the Ornish Diet and by Weight Watchers, but not by the Atkins Diet.
Just two weeks on a low fat primarily vegetarian diet, however, with exercise, can lower CRP levels 45%. Two weeks on a phytonutrient rich full-fat vegan diet with no additional exercise dropped CRP levels an average of 30%, as much as one sees with the use of statin drugs. Meanwhile, your diet evidently causes so much inflammation within the body that CRP levels don't seem to drop at all despite significant weight loss.
Fibrinogen, another inflammatory risk factor associated with heart attack and stroke risk, tends to rise on the Atkins Diet and drop on control low-fat diets. The same thing happens with Lp(a).
If LDL is to be considered bad cholesterol, Lp(a) is really bad cholesterol. The Atkins website agrees that Lp(a) is a "strong risk factor for heart disease and stroke." It also tends to rise on the Atkins Diet and fall on the control vegetarian (vegan) diet.
Even taking into account some of the cardiac risk factors deemed most important by Atkins, the available evidence clearly demonstrates that the Atkins Diet may dramatically increases one's risk for heart disease.