Is the Atkins Diet Linked to Heart and Kidney Problems?

The Physicians Committee

Is the Atkins Diet Linked to Heart and Kidney Problems?

November 28, 2003

Some people on low-carbohydrate, high-fat, high-protein diets are starting to complain about heart and kidney problems they believe may be linked to the diet. In late 2002, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (publisher of Breaking Medical News) established a Web site (, which cautioned consumers about the high-fat diet fad and provided a registry for reporting health problems. Of 188 registrants logging in health concerns during the registry’s pilot period, 22 percent had kidney problems (11 percent stones, 9 percent reduced kidney function, 2 percent infections), while 20 percent reported heart-related problems, such as heart attack, heart rhythm abnormalities, or worsening cholesterol levels. Gallbladder problems were reported by 11 percent. Gout, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer were also reported. The Southern Medical Journal reported the death of a 16-year-old girl following the Atkins Diet, and other deaths have occurred in low-carb dieters, heightening concerns about the diet’s potential risks.

The registry data are self-reports only and have been passed along to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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