Higher Protein Consumption Linked to Lower Stroke Risk — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
June 12, 2014

Higher Protein Consumption Linked to Lower Stroke Risk

By Kelly Young

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Lorenzo Di Francesco, MD, FACP, FHM

Higher protein intake is associated with reduced stroke risk, according to a meta-analysis in Neurology.

Researchers assessed the results of seven prospective cohort studies in roughly 250,000 participants. During a median follow-up of 14 years, participants with the highest self-reported protein intake had a 20% reduced risk for stroke after multivariable adjustment, compared with those with the lowest intake. For every additional 20 grams of protein consumed daily, there was a 26% reduction in stroke risk. Animal protein appeared to confer greater protection than vegetable protein.

The researchers note that in three of the studies, fish was a major source of protein, indicating that "stroke risk may be reduced by replacing red meat with other protein sources such as fish."

Editorialists conclude: "It seems that evidence tilts toward the Cretan Mediterranean diet, although the amount of protein is yet to be determined. In other words, eating vegetables, fruits, and protein every day will help to keep stroke away!"

Reader Comments (2)

NAGANATHAN K PILLAI Monash university(Malaysian campus)

The most important aspect is the presence of risk factors like hypertension, diabetes etc. Eating fish alone will not control these factors. The sea is very polluted now and eating a lot of fish could be harmful.

Carol A Vassar, MD Physician, Internal Medicine, private practice, Vermont

Recent randomized controlled clinical trials have shown lack of efficacy for various vitamin supplement previously recommended on the basis of observational or epidemiological studies.
The appropriate conclusion from this study is that some people can consume higher amounts of protein, even animal protein and still have lower stroke rate than others eating less.
Randomized controlled clinical trials of diet, that last long enough to be clinically significant , are not likely ever to be done. That does not make observational studies capable of providing that missing evidence of causation.
When medical studies are published the public seems to have as ready access to these studies and as do physicians. Our role as physicians should be to educate the public about the limited conclusions that can reasonably be drawn from such studies. Causation is not one of those conclusions.

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