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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE December 24, 2003

Mad Cow Scare Could Burst the High-Protein Bubble

Doctors and Dietitians Available for Comment

WASHINGTON—Doctors and nutritionists with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are available for comment on the first suspected case of mad cow disease in the United States and what it means for meat-eaters, especially high-protein dieters. Mad cow disease is also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.

“This catastrophe might open some eyes to the many problems with meat-heavy diets—not just mad cow disease,” says Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., PCRM nutrition director. “As frightening as this disease is, the truth is that all animal products are risky—whether or not they may harbor prions, the infectious agent responsible for mad cow disease. So high-protein dieters, in particular, should realize that they are not doing themselves any favors by switching from beef to chicken.”

Studies show that high-saturated fat, high-cholesterol foods greatly increase one’s risk of heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. Diets rich in animal protein are also linked to an increased risk of kidney disease and bone loss. Nearly 700,000 Americans die a year from coronary artery disease alone, much of which could be prevented by a low-fat vegetarian diet. In comparison, less then 200 people in Britain have died of the human version of mad cow disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).

In January 2001, PCRM issued a set of recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services calling on the agencies to take stronger steps to protect the American public from mad cow disease and vCJD.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

Related Link:
Mad Cow Disease fact sheet

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