Scientists have discovered that there may indeed be a direct link between red meat consumption and cancer risk. In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, University of California scientists determined that a certain sugar found in red meat, N-glycolylneuraminic acid, promotes inflammation and cancer progression. In the study, scientists found that lab mice exposed to this sugar immediately experienced inflammation, and in the long term, experienced a fivefold risk or incidence of carcinomas.
For some reason, although other carnivorous animals can process this sugar, humans are unable to do so, which leads to the body constantly producing antibodies to “fight off” this foreign substance. This, in turn, causes the inflammation, and later the risk of tumor formation.
“Until now, all of our evidence linking [the sugar] to cancer was circumstantial or indirectly predicted from somewhat artificial experimental setups,” head researcher Ajit Varki, MD, told Foodbeast. “This is the first time we have directly shown that mimicking the exact situation in humans — feeding non-human Neu5Gc and inducing anti-Neu5Gc antibodies — increases spontaneous cancers in mice.”