Scientists from Tel Aviv University found a direct link between meat and dairy foods and the development of antibodies in the blood that increase cancer risk.
Eating a lot of red and processed meat is commonly linked to increased cancer risk, particularly colorectal cancer.
Previous research has found that antibodies against the Neu5Gc from red meat can worsen cancer in animals.
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.
Not produced in humans, Neu5Gc occurs naturally in lamb, pork, and beef, the so-called “red meats”. Levels are very low or undetectable in fruits, vegetables, hen’s eggs, poultry, and fish.
In this study, researchers used world global data to show that colon cancer risk and death are linked to increased intake of meat and dairy foods.
They measured daily Neu5Gc intake from red meat and dairy in nearly 20,000 adults. These people reported all of their food intakes online over a period of several days.
The team then took a representative sample of 120 participants and tested the levels of the anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in their blood.
The team found that men consumed more Neu5Gc than women, mostly from red meat, and exhibited higher anti-Neu5Gc antibody levels in the body.
Increased anti-Neu5Gc antibody level was associated with a higher intake of red meat and cow dairy.
The researchers 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.
These findings suggest a clear link between the levels of anti-Neu5Gc IgG and intake of red meat and dairy foods.
In addition, the team created an index called the Gcemic index based on these findings and the tests of Neu5Gc sugar in various food products from France.
They believe the new index allowed them to predict that those who eat a lot of red meat and cheese will develop high levels and a different variety of antibodies.
The research is published in BMC Medicine and was conducted by Dr. Vered Padler-Karavani et al.
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