A new study from the University of California, San Diego has found the culprit behind why eating red meat causes higher instances of cancer -and all of it has to do with a sugar.
Humans are the only animals that have a higher risk of cancer when it comes to eating red meat, as other predators eat red meat naturally without any ill side effects. The study, which was published December 29 in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” found that a unique sugar called Neu5Gc, found in a lot of mammals but not in humans, activates an immune reaction that in turn causes inflammation.
Ajit Varki, who led the study, explained the effect Neu5Gc had in mice: “Until now, all of our evidence linking Neu5Gc to cancer was circumstantial or indirectly predicted from rather synthetic experimental setups …
This is the first time we have directly shown that mimicking the exact situation in humans– feeding non-human Neu5Gc and causing anti-Neu5Gc antibodies -boosts spontaneous cancers in mice.”
This particular sugar can be found in red meats (using the nutritional meaning of red meat, that includes pork and other livestock), cow’s milk and certain cheeses. Unfortunately for humans, our bodies can’t produce this sugar naturally, so when it is absorbed into our tissues, it is viewed as a foreign intruder. This then causes the activation of our immune systems.
The result is inflammation.
And, while inflammation is not a great thing, in and of itself, it gets worse. If the immune system undergoes Neu5GC often, chronic inflammation will result. This inflammation can then cause cancer. Those who often consume red meat will certainly suffer a more powerful reaction than those who eat red meat on an occasional basis.
Other animals, strict carnivores, who can make the Neu5GC sugar can eat red meats. Humans, not being strict carnivores, can’t. Therefore, it seems clear that humans should avoid red meat intake or face inflammation and possible cancer. At least, reducing red meat consumption will improve health.
If for some reason you believe eating red meat every day (even if it is grass-fed) isn’t really a bad thing, well now you have evidence. Sorry, meat eaters, humans just aren’t built to be true predators.