A new study out of the University of California, San Diego has discovered the culprit behind why red meat leads to higher instances of cancer in humans — and it all 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. Other carnivores eat red meat naturally with no ill side effects. The study, which was published Dec. 29 in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” discovered that a unique sugar called Neu5Gc, found in most mammals but not in humans, triggers an immune response that in turn causes inflammation. Most other carnivores’ bodies are built to process this sugar — human bodies are not.
The study lead, Ajit Varki, MD, is a distinguished professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine and member of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. He explained the effect Neu5Gc had in mice:
Scientists explain that this is the first time they have mimicked the exact situation in humans through feeding non-human Neu5Gc and inducing anti-Neu5Gc antibodies. This increased spontaneous cancer in mice.
This type of sugar in contained in red meats (pork, beef, and other livestock), cow’s milk and certain cheeses.
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 must avoid red meat consumption or face inflammation and possible cancer. At the minimum, reducing red meat ingestion will boost health.
If for some reason you believe eating red meat every day (even if it is grass-fed) isn’t a bad thing, well now you have proof. Sorry, meat eaters, humans just aren’t built to be true carnivores.