Researchers recently identified a direct molecular link between diets based on meat and dairy diet and the development of antibodies in the blood that increase the risk of developing cancer.
Milk and dairy diet
The Neu5Gc molecule is one of the two basic types of sialic acids found in the animal kingdom. It is however absent in humans and birds. On our side, we produce anti-Neu5Gc antibodies during childhood when we first expose to dairy products and meat.
We have known for several years that there is a correlation between the presence of these antibodies and the risk of developing cancer ( colorectal cancer, in particular). However, until now there was no direct link between these antibodies and the consumption of meat and dairy products. It is now done. Details of this work are published in the journal BMC Medicine.
French eating habits
As part of this research, an international team led by Dr. Vered Padler-Karavani, from Tel Aviv University, initially relied on the nutrient-Santé study. Launched in France in 2009 by Roselyne Bachelot and directed by Father Serge Hercberg, this is a cohort study whose objective is to better assess the relationships between health and nutrition by targeting the participation of 500,000 Internet users.
Concretely, from this study, the researchers measured the prevalence of Neu5Gc in a variety of dairy and meat foods common in the French diet. They then calculated the daily intake of this molecule in 19,621 adults aged 18 and over. Each had detailed online food consumption over a period of several days.
The team then selected a representative sample of 120 participants to test for anti-Neu5Gc antibody levels in their blood. Based on these results, the researchers then created an index called the Glycemic Index. Basically, the latter classifies foods whose excessive consumption can lead to an increase in antibodies and therefore, therefore, to a potential increase in cancer risk.
A direct molecular link
The results are very clear: “ We found a significant correlation between a high consumption of Neu5Gc from red meat and cheeses and an increased development of these antibodies which increase the risk of cancer, ” explains Dr. Padler-Karavani.
“ For years, efforts have been made to find such a connection, but no one has. Here, for the first time, we were able to find a molecular link thanks to the precision of the methods used to measure the antibodies in the blood and the detailed data of the questionnaires on the French diet ”. Naturally, researchers urge us to lower our consumption of animal products.
This is not the only study to offer the same type of conclusion. Recently, research has indeed suggested that even small amounts of red meat increase the risk of death. Incidentally, the increase in the global consumption of meat and dairy products could also have a devastating impact on the environment in the coming decades.