Red meat has always been a source of health problems for humans for several decades now. There is always a big chance that those who eat a lot of red meat, such as lamb, pork, or beef develop malignant tumors. Why other animals who consume red meat in large quantities suffer no detrimental effects to their health has been a mystery to researchers.
Recently, an important discovery that may just give light to the persisting problem has been made. It’s all about sugar. Pork, beef, and lamb are able to produce a certain type of sugar that they and other meat eating mammals have, but not humans.
It’s called “Neu5Gc”. This sugar is alien to the human body. So when we eat red meat, the body’s immune system will produce antibodies to fight the sugar. This is a similar response to when bacteria or viruses try to attack us.
However, in the case of other meat eating primates, “Neu5Gc” is already a part of their system; thus, there is no reaction from their immune system.
How does cancer develop in human beings in connection to this foreign sugar? The antibodies will attack the sugar; when this happens, an inflammation will eventually develop. The inflammation will later turn cancerous.
University of California scientists were able to determine this by altering the genetic composition of mice to be unable to produce Neu5Gc. The result was that they developed tumors when the sugar was included in their diet. These results were published in an online journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“This is the first time we have directly shown that mimicking the exact situation in humans’ increases spontaneous cancers in mice,” said Dr Ajit Varki, Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of California.
“The final proof in humans will be much harder to come by. This work may also help explain potential connections of red meat consumption to other diseases exacerbated by chronic inflammation, such as atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. Of course, moderate amounts of red meat can be a source of good nutrition for young people.”
Red meat is good for the body as long as eaten in moderation, according to health experts. The recommendation is to eat at most 70g daily. The daily equivalents are the following: three slices of ham, one lamb chop, or two slices of roast beef. Because despite the risks, red meat is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins.