Corporate Threat
Re: Your Statements Concerning Atkins and Use of Atkins Trademarks

Dear Dr. Greger:

This is on behalf of Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. ("Atkins") in regard to certain statements appearing on your website located at

The Atkins Corporation Legal Department recently sent us this threatening letter accusing us of defaming Atkins, much as the tobacco industry accused public health advocates of defaming Philip Morris.[538]

We are not the only ones Atkins has tried to silence. Fearing, in Atkins own words, that health educator Nathan Pritikin had begun "to be listened to," Atkins filed a $5 million dollar lawsuit charging Pritikin with slander.[541] When Pritikin tragically lost his 28-year battle with radiation-induced leukemia,[542] Dr. Atkins reportedly continued his lawsuit against Pritikin's grieving widow.[543] The Atkins Corporation is now threatening us for (currently transitioning to to avoid any confusion with the Atkins corporate website).

This website allegedly "impinges on Atkins' rights."'s "defamatory" statements, according to the Atkins Corporation, "continue to harm Atkins' reputation and cause injury to Atkins." To read their letter in full, click here (1.7MB, pdf). Thankfully, under law the truth is considered an absolute defense against defamation. A point-by-point rebuttal to their accusations follows (the Atkins letter is quoted in indented italics).

Notwithstanding your self-proclaimed concern for the public interest, your campaign to scare the public with aspersions and false innuendo about Atkins and the ANA [Atkins Nutritional Approach, i.e. the Atkins Diet] undermines the public interest in receiving accurate information.

Philip Morris also accused their critics of "false innuendo."[544] We intend to show that there is nothing false on

Furthermore, this opportunity to rebut their accusations gives us a chance to point out further falsehoods perpetuated by the Atkins Corporation.

Accusation #1: Ignores "the overwhelming weight of the evidence"

As you are undoubtedly aware, your position that the ANA [Atkins Diet] presents serious health risks is at odds with the overwhelming weight of the evidence.
There is, in fact, an overwhelming weight of evidence, but it points to the opposite of what you're claiming. is hardly alone in condemning the Atkins Diet out of fear for the public's health. The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association and the American Medical Association all have publicly come out against Atkins-like diets and warned of serious potential health risks. Literally dozens of medical and nutritional authorities have attempted to educate the public about the very real dangers associated with diets like yours. Their position statements are reprinted in full in our Expert Opinions section of the website.
Atkins Cherry-Picks an "Overwhelming Weight" of 34 Studies

In fact, as documented on the Atkins website (, there are currently no fewer than thirty-four studies demonstrating the weight loss and other health benefits -- and absence of adverse health effects -- of a low-carbohydrate diet.

Thirty-four studies is your "overwhelming weight of evidence"? There are literally hundreds of published reports on low-carbohydrate diets,[545] and you can only find 34 that support your position?

There are also, for example, "no fewer than thirty-four studies demonstrating weight-loss and other health benefits" of cigarette smoking.[546-579] There are also 34 studies showing benefits from thalidomide.[580-613]

Just because the Philip Morris Corporation can wave around more than a hundred[614] studies showing health benefits from smoking, this doesn't mean that smoking is good for you. What it means is that one can cherry-pick data to argue almost any position. This is a classic tobacco corporation tactic.[615]

On your website one can indeed find a list of 34 studies downplaying the risks of the Atkins Diet. But if you go to the website of the Asbestos Institute you can find 34 studies downplaying the risks of asbestos.[616] [more]
Atkins Ignores the Balance of Evidence

What counts is an objective review of all the available data to find out what the balance of evidence shows. Stanford researchers did just that last year, publishing "Efficacy and Safety of Low-Carbohydrate Diets: A Systematic Review" in the Journal of the American Medical Association.[622] [more]
Accusation #2: Ignores the 34 Studies "Supporting Atkins"

In fact, as documented on the Atkins website (, there are currently no fewer than thirty-four studies demonstrating the weight loss and other health benefits -- and absence of adverse health effects -- of a low-carbohydrate diet.
The "no less than some number of studies support the Atkins Diet" line seems to be the Atkins corporate mantra.[629-632] That's how you responded when the American Heart Association condemned your diet.[633] That's how you responded you were sued for allegedly lying to the public about the cardiac risks associated with your diet.[634] That's how you responded to evidence that the Atkins Diet may make women infertile.[635] That's how you responded to the recent formation of a coalition of leading non-profit consumer, nutrition and public health organizations formed to combat the "low-carb hype."[636]

In citing studies you claim support your diet,[637] you cast your position as scientific, though no major governmental or nonprofit medical, nutrition, or science-based organization in the world agrees.[638] A 2004 review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded the Atkins Diet "runs counter to all the current evidence-based dietary recommendations."[641]

So even if there were 34 studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals supporting the Atkins Diet--just like the 34 studies showing that tobacco can be good for you in certain circumstances--independent systematic reviews of the entirety of scientific evidence support neither smoking nor the Atkins Diet for one's health. Still, since these studies seem to be the basis of your defense, let us to look at these studies in greater detail.
Over a Quarter of the "Research Studies" Are Not Even Published

First of all, 9 of the 34 cited studies "supporting Atkins"[642] are not published studies at all,[643-652] but merely abstracts (brief paragraphs written about unpublished studies presented at meetings), which in general, wrote an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, "must be presumed to be unreliable sources of public information."[653] This is another tried and true tobacco industry strategy.[654] [more]
Others Were Published in a Journal Founded by an Atkins Spokesman

The remaining studies were published in peer-reviewed journals. Four of these "peer-reviewed" studies, however, were published in a journal we had never heard of called "Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders." When we couldn't find it in Harvard's medical library, which boasts 26,000 serial titles,[670] or indeed anywhere in the medical mecca of Boston, we became curious.

We called the publisher. We asked them if in fact a single medical library in the country carried their journal. They confirmed that Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. had an active subscription, but that the only medical library that seemed to carry their journal, they said, was one in Alabama.[671] We checked. They don't.[672]

In fact, the journal isn't even indexed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine's Index Medicus[673] or any of the other major medical databases, which contain over 12,000 titles.[674] We clearly had more detective work to do. [more]
Most of the Studies Were Published by Atkins-Funded Researchers

Most of the 34 cited articles were published by Atkins-funded researchers--those given money by you directly or through the Dr. Robert C. Atkins Foundation.[691-710] Another 6 of the studies did not reveal the source of their funding.[711-716] (less than half of major scientific and medical journals require disclosure of conflicts of interest).[717]

As you know, the Atkins Foundation was started by Dr. Atkins and has given millions of dollars to researchers[718] to, in the words of co-founder Veronica Atkins, "prove Dr. Atkins right."[719]

Asbestos corporations fund, publish and cite studies that downplay the risks of asbestos.[720] Chemical companies fund, publish and cite studies that downplay the risks of their products.[721] Tobacco corporations fund, publish and cite studies that downplay the risks of tobacco.[722] It is not surprising that you, the billion-dollar Atkins Corporation, fund, publish and cite studies that downplay the risks of your product, the Atkins Diet. [more]
Atkins Responds to Criticism "Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune"

You deny that your funding influences the results. "Speaking of funding," Dr. Atkins himself wrote, "the media jumped on the fact that the Dr. Robert C. Atkins Foundation funded the study, implying that the results were therefore suspect. Get real! Who do they think is funding the vast majority of funding for drug research? Pharmaceutical companies, of course. Does that mean that all research on prescription drugs is equally suspect?"[745]

In choosing the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Atkins seems to have picked the wrong business to exemplify lack of funding-source influence. According to World Health Organization director Jonathan Quick, "researchers who publish or communicate results unfriendly to the [drug company] sponsors have faced intimidation, attempts to discredit them professionally, and legal threats to recover 'lost sales.'"[746] [more]
Most of the "Supporting" Studies Were Inadequately Controlled

One of the favorite ways drug manufacturers design studies to skew results in favor of their product is to choose inappropriate controls.[756] Just like a drug company might choose an inadequate dosing of the comparison drug to artificially inflate the results of their own product, many of the "supporting" studies of the Atkins Diet were compared to diets that were “low fat” in name only, and yet the Atkins Diet still failed to outperform them long-term. [more]
Accusation #3: Relies on "Mere Opinions"

In the face of this substantial medical evidence, most claims on your website constitute either exaggerated or scientifically undemonstrated statements, mere opinions from medical professionals or organizations...
"Mere opinions" from medical professionals or organizations? This is exactly the tack the tobacco industry took. When the American Cancer Society and others condemned smoking, the tobacco corporations said that the smoking-lung cancer link was "mere opinion."[833] Now that the American Cancer Society has similarly warned against low-carb diets, your response seems the same.
Accusation #4: of Relies on Outdated Critiques

Furthermore, by devoting a significant portion of your critique to the first edition of Dr. Atkins' diet book, published in 1972, you impart the misleading impression that Atkins has not incorporated the numerous advances in medical and nutritional research (such as the recognition of lipid subclasses as risk factors for heart disease) that have since occurred.
First of all, most of the over 500 references we cite are from 2002 or later.[836]
Accusation #5: Left Out "Crucial Information"

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* The site contains numerous distortions of information culled from cited sources. These distortions are inaccurate and extremely irresponsible. For example, you refer to a study that suggests that a quarter pound of beef raises insulin levels in diabetics as much as a pound of straight sugar (page 6). However, you fail to state whether this was in a controlled setting, where a load of the food was given under fasting conditions, or in a mixed diet setting. Leaving out this crucial information allows the data to be misinterpreted and misused for the purpose of supporting your argument.
That study did indeed find that a quarter pound of beef raises insulin levels in diabetics as much as a pound of straight sugar. If anything, the experimental details we omitted (study subjects served as their own controls and the food challenges were given under fasting conditions) just strengthens the argument against Atkins claims which, as documented in the Faulty Science section of the website, one leading obesity researcher described as "the most unutterable nonsense I ever saw in my life."[840]
Accusation #6: Understates the Amount of Fiber in the Diet

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* In another instance, you report that the Induction Phase of the ANA [Atkins Diet] only provides two grams of fiber a day (page 13). This number was not calculated by doing an independent nutrient analysis based on the menus provided in Atkins' New Diet Revolution, and although reference is made to the 1999 edition of the book, nowhere does the book mention that only two grams of fiber are provided. In fact, the Induction Phase using just whole foods would deliver approximately 18 grams of fiber per day. The addition of one Advantage bar includes an additional 6-10 grams of fiber per day.
Although your letter repeatedly accuses of making false statements, you give almost no examples. The few examples you do offer are wrong. This accusation about fiber content is no exception.
Accusation #7: Purports that Atkins Claims Supplements are Necessary

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* Cost of Supplements. The site mentions the cost of vitamins and manufactured foods purportedly necessary to be purchased from Atkins in order to adhere to the ANA [Atkins Diet] (page 19). However, these products are recommended only to supplement a variety of whole foods, including meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The ANA [Atkins Diet] guidelines meet the federal minimum fruits and vegetables recommendations, including in the Induction Phase.
In regards to your objection that describes supplements as necessary on your diet, we refer you to the latest and last edition of Dr. Atkins' book, a chapter entitled "Nutritional Supplements: Don't Even Think of Getting Along Without Them."[850]

Also, as documented in the Malnutrition section, the Atkins Diet most certainly does not meet minimum federal recommendations for fruits and vegetables according to an independent peer-reviewed nutritional analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.[851]
Accusation #8: Provides "Inaccurate Interpretation"

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* Comparisons to Other Nutritional Approaches. At pages 7 and 15 of the site, you provide an inaccurate interpretation of the data from Dansinger study comparing the ANA [Atkins Diet], Weight Watchers, The Zone Diet, and the Ornish Diet, leaving the impression that the largely vegetarian Ornish Diet is superior to the ANA [Atkins Diet].
Of all the diets studied, the Ornish diet was the only one to significantly lower the single most important cardiac risk factor measured, LDL-cholesterol ("bad cholesterol").[852] It was the only one to significantly lower insulin levels, even though that's what Atkins and The Zone diets were designed to do. Unlike the Atkins Diet, the Ornish diet also significantly lowered inflammatory and heart disease risk factor C-reactive protein, and improved a measure of kidney function.[853] The Ornish diet also was the one in which adherents lost the most weight.[854]
Atkins Guilty of Inaccuracy

That study actually showed a significant reduction in the Framingham risk score in all diets except for the Ornish Diet, and the average weight loss on the ANA [Atkins Diet] was 6.4% after one year.

This is incorrect. The average weight loss on the Atkins Diet was 3.9%, not 6.4%.[857] You may have been confusing the Atkins Diet with Dean Ornish's low fat vegetarian diet that showed the greatest weight loss. [more]
Accusation #9: "Distorts" Biochemistry

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* Water Loss. You distort your explanation of the biochemistry of carbohydrate metabolism in order to incorrectly associate the weight loss achieved through the ANA [Atkins Diet] with being mere "water loss." However, numerous studies have demonstrated that fat mass is lost on an Atkins-type program as long as calories are adequate.
In what way did we distort our explanation? never argued that all weight loss was from water. Please review the Losing (Water) Weight section.
Accusation #10: "Exaggerates" Side Effects

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* Side Effects. You exaggerate the potential side effects of the ANA [Atkins Diet] at pages 12 and 14 of the website.
We quote directly from the medical literature--including from studies directly funded by Atkins--documenting the extensive list of pervasive side effects.

For example, Danish obesity expert professor Arne Astrup, M.D., of the Centre of Advanced Food Research in Copenhagen, published a September 2004 review of your diet in The Lancet. [866] Long-term Atkins adherents "start to suffer headaches, muscle cramps and diarrhea," Astrup concluded. "This is consistent with a carbohydrate deficiency. They simply do not get enough carbohydrate to supply the tissues with blood sugar. That is why the organs start to malfunction."[867]

For further documentation we refer you back to the extensive studies cited in our Short Term Side-Effects and Long Term Side Effects sections.
Atkins Implies That Their Diet is Not Extraordinarily Constipating

Constipation can occur on any weight loss program.

As documented in the Constipation section, one study funded by Atkins found that 70% of the patients on the Atkins Diet suffered from constipation.[869] Dr. Atkins himself even admitted that nearly all of his patients were constipated.[539] [more]
Atkins Levels Another False Accusation at

* Contrary to your assertion, the ANA [Atkins Diet] includes fiber-rich foods such as spinach, eggplant, broccoli, asparagus and leafy greens.

We never assert that one can't eat foods such as leafy greens on the Atkins Diet. In fact, we specifically commend Dr. Atkins for recommending that exact thing in our Where Atkins Deserved Credit section.
Accusation #11: Engages in Selective Citation

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* Cancer Risk. You selectively refer to articles to support your claim that the ANA [Atkins Diet] can increase the risk of cancer. Interestingly, this is something you accused Dr. Atkins of doing at page 6 of your site. In fact, studies you omit from your discussion contradict your conclusions.
The tobacco industry similarly accused former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop of "selective reporting" when he argued that smoking caused cancer.[871]

What does C. Everett Koop have to say about your diet? "People need to wake up to the reality," the former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop wrote in December 2003, that the Atkins Diet is "unhealthy and can be dangerous."[872]

The American Cancer Society also condemns both the products of the tobacco industry and the Atkins Corporation for their potential to cause cancer. "A low-carb diet," they write in their official position paper, "can be a high-risk option when it comes to health."[873]
Atkins Claims the Atkins Diet Could Prevent Colon Cancer

You seem to disagree with the American Cancer Society's assessment. Dr. Atkins was asked, for example, if "a lot of red meat could cause colon cancer." He replied that there was "very little evidence to support the viewpoint." [878] On your official website, an Atkins co-author even states that "a controlled carbohydrate eating plan could be a valuable way to help prevent colorectal cancer."[879]

Why then does the American Cancer Society say that "consumption of meat--especially red meats--has been linked to cancers at several sites, most notably colon and prostate"?[880] Is the American Cancer Society merely omitting studies that "contradict" their conclusion? [more]
Atkins Claims the Atkins Diet Could Prevent Breast Cancer Too

Your website also claims that "doing Atkins is the ideal way"[888] to control breast cancer risk. "A controlled carb way of eating almost automatically lowers your risk of breast cancer."[889] Eating over a half cup of lard's worth of saturated fat[890,891] every day is an "ideal way" to prevent breast cancer?

Your website claims "Saturated fat, the kind found in meat, butter, cheese and other animal foods as well as tropical oils, hasn't been shown to have any effect on your risk of breast cancer--whether positive or negative."[892] To support this surprising claim the Atkins website cites an article published in 1997 which, upon review, doesn't address the topic at all.[893] [more]
Atkins Ignores Trans Fats in the Atkins Diet

Dr. Atkins was asked "Isn't the consumption of fat related to cancer?" He replied "According to the multitude of studies published, fat per se was not linked to cancer, with the exception of trans fats, which are not included in the Atkins Nutritional Approach."[902] This is incorrect on two counts. First of all, trans fats are not the only exception; saturated animal fat has been linked to cancers of the breast,[903] prostate,[904] endometrium,[905] lung,[906] and pancreas.[907] And second, trans fats are included throughout the Atkins Diet. [more]
Atkins Was Fifty Years Behind Medical Science

The Atkins Director of Education and Research is convinced that "Researchers at Harvard and elsewhere have made it plain that trans fatty acids have been a killer since the 1930s..."[918] Yet the 1972 Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution recommended "unlimited" quantities of vegetable shortening,[919] the single the most concentrated source of trans fatty acids in the food supply.[920] [more]
Atkins "Best Evidence" Contradicts Their Position

"Does a high-fat diet cause breast cancer?" Your website responds: "Just the opposite--the right kinds of dietary fat may help prevent it. The best evidence for this comes from Harvard's ongoing Nurses' Health Study. In 1992 this long-running study of more than 100,000 women showed no connection between the amount or type of dietary fat they ate and their risk of getting breast cancer."

We agree that the Harvard Nurses' Health Studies represent the best evidence. It was, in fact, those very studies that showed in 2003 that young women with the highest intake of red meat and butterfat had over a 75% greater risk of developing breast cancer.[923] [more]
Atkins Claims No Excess Protein-Cancer Link

Dr. Atkins was asked "What is the relationship between excessive protein consumption and cancer?" He replied, "No one has ever demonstrated a relationship between excessive protein consumption and cancer.[927]

Once again, this is incorrect. Protein intake, particularly animal protein intake, has been linked to brain tumors,[928] breast cancer,[929] pancreatic cancer,[930] stomach cancer,[931] endometrial cancer,[932] kidney cancer,[933] laryngeal cancer,[934] esophageal cancer[935]--even lung cancer.[936] Excess animal protein has also been deemed an "aggressive" risk factor for colon cancer.[937]
Atkins Distorts Data Presented at a Conference

One of the questions addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions section of your website is "Doesn't a high-fat diet increase cancer risk?" In your answer, you argue that there is no link between meat and colon cancer, and base your argument solely on preliminary, unpublished data from a single investigation described at a meeting that took place years ago.[938] Further, even that data was distorted. [more]
Accusation #12: Makes "Unsupported" Arguments About Bone Risk

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* Bone Loss and Kidney Function. Your arguments at page 21 that the ANA [Atkins Diet] can adversely affect bones and kidney function are similarly unsupported. Urinary calcium loss is not an inevitable result of a low-carbohydrate dietary regimen.
This claim is similar to the one made in "Talking About Atkins to Your Doctor," a section of your website which explains that "you may have to educate your health-care provider a bit about exactly what's involved with Atkins." If, for example, a dieter's doctor is concerned that eating too much meat may leach calcium from their bones, you recommend they tell their doctor "This is another myth that has been disproved."[957] Before anyone confronts their doctor, though, they may want to know the whole story.
Atkins Ignores the Studies that Actually Measure Fracture Risk

Although some short-term studies reveal a net urinary calcium loss, long-term studies directly examining bone loss via DEXA scan (a superior indicator of bone health relative to urinary calcium) reveal no bone loss.

It is evident that you focus on indicators rather than endpoints. Your website, for example, discusses cardiac risk factors while failing to reference the one study that actually measured blood flow in the hearts of Atkins dieters--and showed a significant worsening of their heart disease. Although DEXA scans may be superior to urinary calcium measurements, arguably the best indicator would be assessing the risk of actually suffering a bone fracture. The Harvard Nurses' Health Study, which followed over 85,000 nurses for a dozen years, found that those eating just a serving of red meat a day had a significantly increased fracture risk.[961] [more]
Atkins Falsely Claims Followers are Getting Enough Calcium

Atkins offers a variety of foods rich in calcium in all phases of the program, including Induction...

Animal protein causes calcium loss, but studies have shown that if someone consumes enough calcium, they may be able to mediate the effects of that protein.[970] The problem is that the Atkins Diet can also be seriously deficient in calcium.[971] The Atkins "Debunking the Myths" webpage, though, calls such a charge just another "fallacy."[972] The "Fact" your website counters with is that "While you're doing Atkins you will get 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake of calcium..."[973]

According to independent nutritional analyses, this is incorrect. The estimated calcium content on the Atkins Diet during Induction in one analysis is 373mg,[974] less than 40% the Recommended Daily Intake.[975] Tufts calls the calcium content of the Atkins Diet (even after Induction) one of its "serious dietary shortfalls."[976]
Accusation #13: Spreads "the biggest myth of all" About Kidney Risk

Nor does the ANA [Atkins Diet] adversely affect kidney function. Although Atkins recommends that individuals with renal impairment seek medical approval from their personal physician prior to starting the ANA [Atkins Diet], studies have shown that high protein intake was not associated with renal function decline in women with normal renal function.
According to your website, the fact that Atkins followers risk kidney damage[977] "may be the biggest myth of all." You counter this "fallacy" that eating too much protein on the Atkins Diet is bad for one's kidneys with "Fact: Too many people believe this untruth simply because it has been repeated so often that even intelligent health professionals assume it must have been reported somewhere. But the fact is that it has never been reported anywhere. No one has as yet produced a study for review, or even cite a specific case in which a diet high in protein causes any form of kidney disorder."[978] Again, this is simply incorrect.
Atkins Dismisses the Harvard Nurses' Study's Conclusions

You dismiss the Harvard Nurses' Study's finding that high meat protein intake may worsen kidney function in part because the diet of the women in the study was "not a low-carbohydrate diet analogous to the ANA [Atkins Diet]." This is true. The "excessive" amount of protein which furthered kidney damage in the women in the Nurses' Study is only about half of what one might expect to get on the Atkins Diet.[979]

Please see the Kidney "Scarring" section for more about kidney risk.
Atkins Claims Diet is High Fat, Not High Protein

You claim your diet is not an "excessively high protein regimen." The Atkins Diet, you argue, "should be more appropriately be called a high fat regimen."[1151] It is both.

Even according to one of the "Research Supporting Atkins" studies, followers of the Atkins Diet eat as much as 156 grams of protein a day,[980] 40% more protein than most Americans eat, and perhaps twice as much animal protein.[981]
Accusation #14: Objectionably Asserts Diet is Bad for Heart

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

Lipid Profile. You assert that page 23 that the ANA adversely affects the lipid profile thereby increasing risk of cardiovascular disease. However, in the studies referenced by Atkins at, the majority of subjects following a low-carbohydrate diet experience favorable responses (e.g. a decrease in serum triglycerides or LDL and an increase in serum HDL) (Westman 2002).
Atkins Ignores Proof that the Atkins Diet clogs arteries

Based on one analysis of your diet published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, long-term use of the Atkins Diet is expected to raise coronary heart disease risk by over 50%.[982] But before one even addresses the question of risk factors, as documented in The Proof is in the SPECT Scan, there was a study published in the peer-reviewed medical literature that actually measured what was happening to people's arteries on the Atkins Diet.[983] The results, posted online, validate that the Atkins Diet, according to the American Dietetic Association, is "a heart attack waiting to happen."[984]
Atkins Exaggerates the Benefit of Lowering Triglycerides

You claim that triglycerides are as big a threat--or an even bigger threat--to heart health than cholesterol.[985] This is demonstrably false.[986] [more]
Atkins Distorts the Record on Cholesterol

A rise in serum LDL levels is not an inevitable response to low-carbohydrate dietary regimens. Some studies report no statistically significant changes in LDL levels (Stern, 2004; Yancy, 2004) or a statistically significant reduction (Westman, 2002) in LDL levels.

As documented in the section of our website Atkins Distorted His Record on Cholesterol, the Atkins Diet has failed to consistently improve the single most important risk factor for heart disease, LDL, or bad cholesterol. Your website, however, claims "Almost every Atkins follower sees a drop in LDL ("bad") cholesterol."[995] Even Atkins-funded researchers concede that this is incorrect.[994]
Atkins Argues that Size Matters

Furthermore, some studies reveal that in subjects who experienced an increase in serum LDL levels, the increase is due to a greater number of large LDL particles (pattern A) and not an increase of atherogenic small LDL particles (pattern B) (Sharman 2004, Hays 2003, Sharman 2002). In addition, in some instances, the opposite trend may occur in low fat diets: "Paradoxically, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet exacerbates atherogenic dyslipidemia if the patient does not lose a significant amount of weight or increase his or her level of physical activity." (Volek 2002)

You admit that bad cholesterol may rise on your diet, but argue that the rise may be mostly in large bad cholesterol (pattern "A") not the "atherogenic small" bad cholesterol (pattern "B"). While earlier research done on rabbits indeed showed that small LDL particles seemed more likely to infiltrate rabbit arteries,[996] studies since then on the arteries of actual human beings found that size doesn't matter.[997] [more]
Atkins Offers No Viable Alternative to Drugs

Dr. Atkins warned about the dangers associated with the cholesterol-lowering "statin" drugs,[1008] but then didn't offer a diet that could lower one's cholesterol enough to avoid a lifetime of these costly drugs.[1009] On the contrary, the Atkins Diet has in fact been shown to seriously worsen heart disease.[1010] [more]
Atkins Exaggerates the Benefit of Raising HDL Cholesterol

Saturated fat can raise HDL (Hickey 2003, Westman 2002). High HDL levels have shown to be protective against coronary heart disease. Therefore, even if LDL is slightly increased, the LDL/HDL ratio and total cholesterol/HDL ratio are still improved after following a low-carbohydrate, high saturated fat diet (Volek 2003).

This claim is similar to the one on your website that low HDL is a more important risk factor than elevated LDL.[1044] [more]
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."[1071] It is interesting to note, then, that even research he funded shows that both these risk factors worsen on the Atkins Diet. [more]
Accusation #15: Makes "Misleading" Assertion About Saturated Fat

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* Health Effects of Saturated Fat. Your assertions at page 26 regarding the health effects of saturated fats are misleading. Studies looking at the effects of saturated fat on LDL and total cholesterol have primarily been conducted in conjunction with a high carbohydrate diet.
Similarly from your website: "Is it OK for me to consume more than 20 percent of my calories in the form of saturated fat? Absolutely," you replied, "you're fine as long as you're also following the rules of the ANA [Atkins Diet], which include controlling your carbs." Dr. Frank M. Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health, called this argument simply "ridiculous."[1110]
How Can the Atkins Corporation Just Say Saturated Fat is OK?

Corporations have a long history of downplaying the risks of their products. Though over the past decades millions of children have been poisoned by lead paint in the U.S., the Lead Industries Association once threatened to sue a public health advocate for daring to say that "lead paint was bad to eat."[1119] The asbestos industry also claimed that their product "offers no hazard to the worker."[1120] "I'm unclear in my own mind," said the Chairman of Philip Morris in 1998, "whether anyone dies of cigarette smoking-related diseases."[1121] [more]
Atkins Corporation Mislabels and Misleads

Your website claims "saturated fats aren't bad."[1127] According to Colette Heimowitz, M.S., the Atkins Director of Education and Research, saturated fat has a "heart-healthy role." "In fact," she writes, "some large epidemiological trials, including the well-known Framingham Nurses' Study, have shown no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease, stroke or breast cancer. In fact, the more saturated fat and cholesterol participants consumed, the lower their risk of heart disease."[1128]

There is no such thing as the "well-known Framingham Nurse's Study." Ms. Heimowitz must be thinking of either the Framingham Heart Study or the Harvard Nurses' Health Study. In either case, she is mistaken. [more]
Atkins Implies the Type of Saturated Fat in Beef is Benign

In the "Truth About Fat" you argue that it is "absolutely" OK to consume more than 20% of calories in one's diet from saturated fat. "In fact," your website reads, "one-third of the fat in beef is stearic acid, which has been found to have a neutral or cholesterol-lowering effect."[1138] This is a classic deceptive tactic used by the chocolate industry. [more]
Accusation #16: Claim Regarding Teen's Death "Without Support"

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* Your claim at page 27 of the site that the ANA [Atkins Diet] is responsible for the death of Rachel Huskey is inflammatory and without support.
Addressing Rachel's tragic death, adolescent medicine specialist Paul Robinson, M.D., said: "Our findings are consistent with what we understand is the body's potential response to the Atkins Diet." "Obviously it doesn't happen very often," he continued, "and not in everybody. But I am very, very concerned about it. There are certainly lots of evidence that it may have been the diet."[1149]

For further documentation, see the section on Rachel. The report of her death and her diet was even published in a peer reviewed medical journal by Professor Joseph Tobias, a world-renowned child health specialist, that supports Dr. Robinson's assertions.[1122] It's reprinted in full at Sudden Death of an Adolescent During [Atkins] Dieting.
Accusation #17: Cites Claims "Lacking in Merit"

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins...

* With respect to claims brought against Atkins by Jody Gorran, Atkins believes that those claims are entirely lacking in merit and will be dismissed.
As documented in Closing Off His Heart To the Atkins Diet, businessman and past Atkins enthusiast Jody Gorran stopped following Atkins only after narrowly escaping a massive heart attack. He is now suing you, alleging that you "knew, or should have known," that what you were saying about your diet and heart disease risk was false.[1150]

It is ironic that your lawyers attempted to dismiss his lawsuit based on your "free speech protection of the First Amendment"[1123] yet you threaten for exercising the same right.
Please be advised that if you persist in misrepresenting the Atkins Nutritional Approach and the research supporting the ANA, [Atkins Diet] you do so at your own risk. We intend to monitor closely the website and other oral and written statements by you.

We intend to continue to warn the public about the serious potential dangers your diet presents. "When unproven science becomes a sales pitch," declared a spokesperson for the American Institute for Cancer Research about low-carb diets, "some people get rich and the rest of us get ripped off."[842]

-Michael Greger, M.D.
Atkins Facts:
> What the Experts Think of Atkins
> Faulty Science
> Short-Term Side Effects
> All Long-Term Studies on Atkins a Wash
> Long-Term Side Effects
> The Safer Alternative
> References 1-1160

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