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March 23, 2001 (Orlando) -- By his own admission, Robert C. Atkins, MD, author of the best-selling diet books The Diet Revolution and Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, has experience "not as a research scientist but as a practicing internist/cardiologist with 41 years of practice, in which time I treated 20,000 patients with heart-related problems or vulnerabilities."

Atkins, founder and medical director of the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine in New York, discussed his popular but controversial diet plan in a one-on-one interview with WebMD.

WebMD: Is your diet plan appropriate for everyone, or are there people who should not be on it?

Atkins: The whole idea that one diet is best doesn't make any sense to me. But there are many people who can benefit from my diet.

WebMD: Such as?

Atkins: There are an awful lot of people who have an insulin disorder, and among the people with insulin disorder are certainly the overweight group; diabetics; people with unstable blood sugar, which is called low blood sugar; and people with hypertension. It's also very useful for preventing the recurrence of breast cancer, it's useful for polycystic ovary syndrome, and we use it for [the digestive disorders] Crohn's disease and colitis. So there are an awful lot of situations where we might use our diet.

WebMD: Your diet allows high-fat foods such as bacon and sausage, but that flies in the face of conventional wisdom in cardiology, which holds that to prevent heart disease you need to avoid fats, and if you're already at risk -- overweight, high cholesterol levels, etc. -- you should seriously cut back on your intake of fats from animal sources.

Atkins: As far as cardiovascular disease is concerned, I think it's the treatment of choice for people who have [high levels of] triglycerides [harmful blood fats] ... and it's also very useful for raising the HDL [good] cholesterol levels when they're too low.

Any time you have a heart patient, there's a combination of prevention and reversal and controlling the illness, so that when people have heart problems the diet is quite appropriate.

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