A man who claims his cholesterol level shot up after he went on the Atkins diet is suing the estate of Robert Atkins and the company promoting his diet, it emerged yesterday.
Jody Gorran, 53, says that after two years on the Atkins diet his arteries became so clogged he needed surgery.
Mr Gorran went on the Atkins diet, which recommends a low carbohydrate, high protein regime, when his weight rose by 8lbs. After two months his cholesterol levels rocketed from 148, which is normal, to 230, which is harmful.
After three bouts of chest pain his doctors discovered that he had a 99% blockage in a major artery and had to perform an angioplasty and insert a stent - a small wire mesh tube - to keep it open.
"I came very close to dying and this is from a diet I thought was marvellous," said Mr Gorran yesterday. "For two-and-a-half years, I extolled the virtues of this diet to anyone who listened because I was losing weight and I felt great. But when I started, I had no idea I was making a deal with the devil for trying to keep a 32-inch waistline."
Mr Gorran, who is being backed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which supports a vegan diet, is seeking $28,000 (£15,200).
"I contend there ought to be a warning on this diet," Mr Gorran told the New York Times. "I'm seeking an injunction to prevent them from selling their products, books, or having their website without a warning because they know one-third of the people on the diet will have what Atkins referred to as 'less than favourable cholesterol'."
Referring to the lawsuit, Mr Gorran said: "The whole thing is based on getting the word out. Even if the suit never gets anywhere, we'll be out there and people will start to think."
A representative for Atkins Nutritionals and Dr Atkins's estate said they continued to back the "science that has repeatedly reaffirmed the safety and health benefits of Atkins".
"We should not let the real issue - providing people with a scientifically validated nutritional choice in the face of worldwide obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic - be manipulated by this extremist animal rights vegan group."
Dr Atkins, whose book Dr Atkins' New Diet Revolution sold 15m copies and attracted a huge following, died last year after a fall. But a medical report, leaked in February, indicated that, at 258lbs, he was obese when he died.
The diet, which allows you to eat fatty foods and advocates meat, eggs and cheese while frowning on bread, rice and fruit, has proved popular in the US. But experts have derided it as "pseudo-science".
Dr Frank Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health, said of the hike in Mr Gorran's cholesterol: "It could happen in two weeks. There are definitely people that happens to, though it is not a majority."