University of California’s scientists, led by Professor Ajit Varki, have discovered why the consumption of red meat increases the risk of cancer.
The answer lays in a specific sugar. This study, conducted at the UC in San Diego shined a new light at this question on which the answer was only hypothesized.
It was discovered that a sugar named Neu5Gc is the main cause of cancer in humans. We humans happen to be the only mammal that doesn’t naturally produce this sugar, so our organisms aren’t used to its presence.
The study was published on December 29th in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science”, and in the study Dr. Varki explained that before this study was conducted, all the evidence that links Neu5Gc to cancer was circumstantial and theoretical, but it has now been proven that feeding non-humans Neu5Gc and introducing anti-Neu5gc antibodies increased the cancer rate in mice significantly.
Neu5Gc is found in red meats, such as pork and beef, as well as in milk and some cheeses.
As it was mentioned before, carnivores have evolved to produce Neu5Gc naturally, so it doesn’t affect them, and humans are the only carnivores not able to produce this sugar.
When consumed, the sugar is absorbed by the organism, and then it’s seen as an intruder.
Our immune system goes into overdrive trying to defend us from the threat, and causes inflammation.
Consuming red meat frequently puts your organism in a state of constant stress and inflammation, and therefore the risk of cancer is significantly increased.
In order to reduce the chances of cancerous cell growth, red meat shouldn’t be consumed more than once or twice a week, and even the “grass-fed” meat should be avoided.