Bad eating habits and poor nutrition can lead to several chronic health diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Scientists suggest that eating processed food, particularly processed meat and red meat can also contribute to cancer.
The researchers recently published their study in the journal BMC Medicine regarding the role of red meat in causing cancer.
According to the researchers, the main culprit for causing cancer can be N-glycolylneuraminic acid. It can lead to colorectal cancer, as evident from the study. Neu5Gc or N-glycolylneuraminic acid is a sugar and is found abundantly in animal products including dairy and red meat. It is also present in fish to some level but not in poultry.
The human body does not synthesize this carbohydrate but the body stores this sugar on the cell surface upon ingestion. Meanwhile, the immune response of humans recognizes this sugar as foreign material and starts producing antibodies against it.
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The studies conducted on animal models show that exposure to these Neu5Gc antibodies can cause inflammation in the body or even cancer. Meanwhile, scientists have not yet identified the mammalian products as a clear source of cancer or these antibodies production.
The team of researchers for this study obtained data from a survey by NutriNet-Santé. The researchers used the data of 16,149 individuals for this study. Also, they estimated the amount of Neu5Gc found in various food products. These researchers compared the level of this sugar in each food product to the level found in meat.
The researchers then obtained the blood samples of 120 individuals from the study. They analyzed those samples for the level of antibodies against the sugar in their serum. The researchers fill the gap in the research in this field which shows the molecular link between the risk of cancer and consumption of red meat.
According to the researchers, there are other factors in such products as well that can increase the risk of cancer. Meat has a high content of fat and several mutagens or chemical compounds that can mutate the genetic material. This causes severe damage to the cells and leads to cancer due to the mutations.
The study shows that the overconsumption of mammal products including dairy and red meat can increase the level of Neu5Gc in the body. This in turn increases the level of circulating antibodies in the blood against this sugar due to the immune response. The antibodies cause inflammation in the body and over inflammation can increase the risk of cancer.
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Scientists also suggest that their database can help people estimate the amount of this sugar they consume through their diet. This database shows the level of Neu5Gc in almost all food products commonly available in the market.
Experts also suggest that one can lower the risk of cancer by decreasing the consumption of red meat and other mammal products. This is not only beneficial for human health but also for the environment. The decreased consumption of red meat can also help us decrease climate change to some extent.