Intermittent Fasting and Heart Health: A New Study Raises Concerns

Discover key insights from a study on intermittent fasting's risks, including a higher cardiovascular disease mortality rate. Essential reading for health enthusiasts.

Intermittent Fasting and Heart Health: A New Study Raises Concerns
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Intermittent fasting, characterized by eating within a six-to-eight-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 to 18 hours, has been a dieting trend lauded for its potential benefits. These benefits include weight loss, reduced disease risks, lowered blood pressure, and more. However, a recent analysis by researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine presents a nuanced perspective on this popular dietary practice.

The study scrutinized dietary patterns data from the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys spanning from 2003 to 2018, correlating this with mortality data up to December 2019 from the CDC's National Death Index database. With around 20,000 adult participants averaging 49 years in age over follow-up periods of up to 17 years, the findings are substantial.

Alarmingly, the study reveals that individuals sticking to an eating window of less than eight hours daily had a 91% escalated risk of death from cardiovascular disease. This risk not only applied to the general cohort but was particularly pronounced in individuals already suffering from heart disease or cancer. Those with cardiovascular conditions eating within an eight to ten-hour window faced a 66% increased risk of fatal stroke or heart disease.

Contrary to intermittent fasting's purported advantages, the study found no significant reduction in overall mortality risk. Interestingly, an eating duration exceeding 16 hours daily correlated with a lower cancer mortality risk among cancer-afflicted individuals.

Victor Wenze Zhong, the study's senior author, expressed surprise at the findings, highlighting the increased mortality risk from cardiovascular disease associated with an eight-hour eating schedule. This challenges the prevailing narrative around the diet's short-term benefits by demonstrating no correlation with increased lifespan compared to a typical 12-16 hour daily eating window.

It's worth noting that the study, yet to be peer-reviewed or published in an academic journal, has its limitations, including reliance on self-reported dietary patterns and not accounting for the nutritional quality of consumed foods. Nonetheless, these findings prompt a reevaluation of intermittent fasting's health implications, urging a more cautious approach to its practice.

My takeaway, although intermittent fasting might have long-term benefits for heart disease, the added stress from fasting in the short-term increases risks of hear problems, especially in vulnerable groups.