How Red Meat Causes Cancer
Red meat has previously been implicated as cancer producing. Researchers have now unraveled exactly how consuming red meat and milk contributes to tumor growth. According to the results of a study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), when we eat red meat, we are introducing Neu5Gc (N-glycolylneuraminic acid) into our bodies - a type of sugar molecule. We don't naturally produce Neu5Gc. The body tries to fight the foreign substance by producing antibodies. The response causes inflammation, in turn promoting the growth of cancerous tumors.
Ajit Varki, M.D, professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine, and co-director of the UCSD Glycobiology Research and Training spearheaded the study. Dr. Varki explains, "We've shown that tumor tissues contain much more Neu5Gc than is usually found in normal human tissues. We therefore surmised that Neu5Gc must somehow benefit tumors…chronic inflammation results from interaction of Neu5Gc accumulated in our bodies from eating red meat with the antibodies that circulate as an immune response to this non-human molecule – and this may contribute to cancer risk."
Dr. Varki and colleagues used specially bred mice to qualify their theory. The mice did not possess the Neu5Gc molecule. Once they introduced the molecule, then administered Neu5Gc antibodies, they were able to see the inflammatory response that ensued. The tumors grew faster. The researchers then reduced the process using an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), blocking the cancer promoting effect of Neu5Gc. The tumors were actually reduced.
NSAID'S have previously been found to reduce cancer risk in human trials. "The paradox of Neu5Gc accumulating in human tumors in the face of circulating antibodies suggested that a low-grade, chronic inflammation actually facilitated the tumor growth", says Dr. Varki. The information allowed the research group to see a direct link between eating red meat and cancer.
The study authors surmise that Neu5Gc, from red meat, benefits cancerous tumors. The accumulation of unnatural substances in the body is increasingly shown to promote disease. Anti-inflammatory foods, stress reduction, and exercise can ameliorate the effects.
It may be important for all of us to consider the findings. It seems that that red meat really can cause cancer. Reducing or eliminating red meat from your diet may reduce cancer risk, as well as making treatment of existing cancer more successful.