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Are Kate and Jen at risk of stroke due to low-carb diets?

Women on Atkins-style diets are putting themselves at risk of heart disease and strokes, experts have warned.

Those who regularly eat a low-carb, high-protein diet are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease than those who do not, research published on bmj.com suggests.

Celebrity fans of low carb diets include actress Jennifer Aniston and Kate Middleton, who lost weight for her wedding on the Dukan diet.

More than 43,000 Swedish women were assessed over 15 years. Of those, 1,270 had suffered a "cardiovascular event". Researchers found that if women decreased their carb intake by 20g a day and increased their protein intake by 5g, they had a 5pc increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The amounts are relatively small -- 20g of carbohydrates is the equivalent of a small bread roll and 5g of protein is the equivalent to one boiled egg.


The figures represent an additional four to five cases of cardiovascular disease per 10,000 women per year compared with those who did not regularly eat a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet.

The authors said that increasing physical activity reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, while increasing levels of smoking increased the risk.

"Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets, used on a regular basis and without consideration of the nature of carbohydrates or the source of proteins, are associated with increased risk of cardio vascular disease," the authors conclude.

Meanwhile, a US study shows that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are just as effective for women as for men in preventing heart problems in people who have already had a heart attack or stroke.

Although statins are widely used for so-called secondary prevention -- to stop repeat heart attacks and strokes -- some analyses have questioned whether they work as well in women as in men, said Jose Gutierrez at Columbia University in New York, who led the study.

Gutierrez and his colleagues consulted previous trials in which both men and women at risk of a second heart attack or stroke were randomly assigned to a statin or a drug-free placebo pill. The studies included a combined 43,000 people and lasted anywhere from four months to more than six years.

Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers said that despite some lingering questions, their analysis "supports the use of statins in women."