How red meat may cause cancer
How Red Meat May Cause Cancer

April 21, 2014
 by Gabe Mirkin, MD

In 1982, Ajit Varki discovered Neu5Gc, a sugar chain
that is found in meat from mammals but not in the
cells of humans. He claimed that when you eat red
meat, the Neu5Gc from the meat is absorbed into your
body and that this might explain why red meat is
associated with increased risk of cancer. This month,
32 years later, he published data showing how Neu5Gc
may cause cancer (Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences, published online April 7, 2014).
 
He writes that your natural immunity attacks Neu5GC in
the same way that it kills germs that enter the body.
If your immunity produces large amounts of protein
antibodies that bind to and kill germs, you are
protected. The same applies to cancer cells. Every
day, your body produces millions of cancer cells. Your
immunity recognizes cancer cells as being different
from normal cells and produces antibodies that attach
to and kill these cancer cells. This is exactly the
same mechanism that your immunity uses to try to
prevent germs from growing in your body. If your
immunity produces large amounts of antibodies against
cancer cells, you kill them and they disappear from
your body. On the other hand, if you produce only
small amounts of antibodies to cancer cells, the
cancer cells can grow and spread through your body.
 
How Neu5GC May Cause Cancer
 All mammals except humans have Neu5Gc on the surface
of their cells. Humans develop Neu5Gc on their cells
only when they get it from eating meat or dairy
products from mammals. When you eat red meat, you
absorb Neu5Gc into your body and it ends up on the
sugar chains on the surface of cells in your body. For
more than 30 years, Varki has wanted to do studies to
show how Neu5Gc could cause cancer, but it is illegal
and immoral to do studies that cause cancer in humans.
Ten years ago, a company in New Hampshire developed
mice that do not have Neu5Gc for use in Varkiís
experiments. Because they have no Neu5Gc, they are
like humans and different from all other mammals.
 
Varki took these mice and fed them Neu5Gc. The Neu5Gc
from red meat stuck on their cells, just as it does in
humans who eat red meat or dairy products. Then he
gave the mice antibodies that attach to and try to
destroy Neu5Gc. When he gave them low doses of
antibodies against Neu5Gc, tumors developed and grew
rapidly. In mice who were given high doses of
antibodies, the antibodies attached to and killed the
tumors. He feels that when your immunity is working
properly, it produces enough antibodies to kill the
cancer cells. However, if your immunity produces only
small amounts of antibodies, it appears that cancer
cells are able to grow and spread through your body.
 
How Varki Found Neu5gc
 Varki ground up cowís muscle and put it into a 20-foot
column of gel with a positive charge on one side
and a negative charge on the other. This separated out
almost 1500 different protein and sugar molecules. He
did the same with human muscle. He found a sugar-protein
in cowís muscle that was not in human muscle,
and called it Neu5Gc. He explains that at one time,
all mammals had Neu5Gc on their cells. However, a
mutation occurred in humans that converted Neu5Gc to
another sugar-protein that he called Neu5Ac. Today all
mammals except homo sapiens have Neu5Gc. Humans have
Neu5Ac in its place. Read my earlier report on Varkiís
work (2008)
 
Varkiís Explanation of How Red Meat Could Cause Cancer
 Many studies show that people who eat red meat or
dairy products have Neu5GC on their cells. Much higher
concentrations of Neu5gc in a humanís body is found in
cancer cells with the highest concentration of Neu5Gc
in humans found in cancer tumors that metastasize
(spread through the body and kill). If you have a
strong immunity, your body will produce very large
amounts of antibodies against Neu5Gc and you will kill
the cancer cells. However, if your immunity does not
produce enough antibodies against Neu5Gc, the cancer
cells can grow, and can spread through your body.
Varki is now trying to cure cancers by working on ways
to increase antibody production.
 
What Does This Mean to You Now?
 Not everyone agrees with Varkiís ideas about Neu5Gc
and cancers, but there is strong evidence linking red
meat and some types of cancer, particularly colon
cancer. Epidemiological data show that people who eat
red meat daily are at increased risk for many cancers,
but the data fail to show that people who eat red meat
once a week or less are at increased risk. On the
basis of this data, I recommend that you limit your
intake of red meat and dairy products.