In a recent study at Tel Aviv University, researchers have found a direct molecular link between meat and dairy diets and the development of antibodies in the blood that increase the chances of developing cancer.
This connection may explain the high incidence of cancer among those who consume large amounts of dairy products and red meat, similar to the link between high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.
Neu5Gc is a sugar molecule found in the tissues of mammals but not in poultry or fish.
Humans develop antibodies to Neu5Gc in infancy, when they are first exposed to dairy and meat products.
While it is known that these antibodies increase the risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer, no direct link had been found between the antibodies and meat and dairy consumption.
In the study, researchers used samples from NutriNet-Santé, an extensive national nutritional survey conducted in France.
They measured the amount of Neu5Gc sugar in a variety of dairy and meat foods common in the French diet and calculated the daily Neu5Gc intake of 19,621 adults aged 18 and over, who reported all of their food intakes online over a period of several days.
The research team then took a representative sample of 120 participants and tested the levels of the anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in their blood.
Based on these findings and the tests of Neu5Gc sugar in various food products from France, the team created an index called the Gcemic index.
This index ranks foods whose excessive consumption can lead to an increase in the antibodies—and possibly to an increase in the risk of cancer.
They found a strong correlation between high consumption of Neu5Gc from red meat and cheeses and increased development of those antibodies that heighten the risk of cancer.
The team adds that this combination of methods allowed the researchers to predict that those who eat a lot of red meat and cheese will develop high levels and a different variety of antibodies, and therefore may be at higher risk for cancer—especially colorectal cancer, but other cancers as well.
If you care about cancer, please read studies about why some processed meat is strongly linked to cancer while others not, and this vegetable oil increase spread of cancer.
For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about dairy food linked to higher cancer risks, and results showing vitamin D may help avoid tens of thousands of cancer deaths.
The study was published in BMC Medicine and conducted by Dr. Vered Padler-Karavani et al.
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