Red Meat, Cows’ Dairy and cancer

Changing your diet to beat cancer

Red meat, inflammation and cancer risk


meatThe Oxford vegetarian study some years ago showed that eating red meat increased your risk of cancer by threefold.

Epidemology studies by The Karolinska Institute and others have linked cows’ dairy consumption to increased risk. This has been repeatedly rationalised to be due to a hormone, Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), present whether the milk is pasteurised, skimmed or organic.

Now scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have found a common mechanism that explains how consuming red meat, as well as milk, can activate the growth of a cancer. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

The new study, headed by Doctor Ajit Varki, suggests yet another factor might be at work. Dr Varki who is the Professor of Medicine at the school, looked at a sugar glycan molecule - N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). It is not produced in the human body, so when you ingest it, it appears ‘foreign’ and the body prepares antibodies against it. These antibodies can then start an inflammatory reaction which other foods, chemicals and so on, can amplify. Chronic inflammation is often a precursor to tumours.

"We’ve shown that tumour tissues contain much more Neu5Gc than is usually found in normal human tissues. We therefore surmised that Neu5Gc must somehow benefit tumours,” Dr. Varki said in the press statement.

To conduct this study, the scientists developed a novel approach. Taking specially bred mice that did not have the molecule and so were the same as us humans, they induced tumours. Then they gave half the antibodies to the sugar, as if they had made them in reaction to meat eating. In the antibody group the tumours grew much faster.

Next, they decided to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as these have been shown to both reduce inflammation, and cancer risk. And the NSAIDS blocked the inflammatory effects of the Neu5Gc antibodies and the tumours became smaller.

"Taken together, our data indicate that chronic inflammation results from interaction of Neu5Gc accumulated in our bodies from eating red meat with the antibodies that circulate as an immune response to this non-human molecule – and this may contribute to cancer risk," Varki added.


An understanding of the importance of Inflammation


In my book, The Rainbow Diet – and how it can help you beat cancer, I have a specific chapter on inflammation as a precursor to cancer. It has been shown to lie behind ‘tumour cancers’ such as breast or prostate and especially as a major factor in the formation of pre-cancerous polyps in colorectal cancer.

The science of inflammation is well understood, since Sir John Vane won his Nobel Prize and Knighthood in 1982 for his work on localised cellular hormones called eicosanoids. What was exceptional about his work was that these hormones last only about 1 second. There are about 130 eicosanoids, some good, some bad, some like prostaglandins, good in small doses but causing severe inflammation as levels increase.

Eicosanoids are the final step in the messaging system from the brain, via hormones, electrical and other chemicals like proteins. Stressed brain means stressed breast cells. Happy brain, happy prostate cells. That’s the theory. Of course, other chemicals can affect them and research has shown that cortisol (the stress hormone), insulin and even steroids can make matters worse. This occurs because eicosanoids are made from the localised ‘fat pool’ via one of two enzymatic routes. The bad ones seem to be made via a route controlled by an enzyme called Cox-2. This enzyme is stimulated by cortisol, insulin and steroids and so makes more of the inflammatory ‘bad guys’. Worryingly, what is the first drug most Hospitals give a cancer patient? Steroids.

dairyAs I never like to talk to raise a problem without suggesting actionable ‘solutions’, I also included in my book an extensive look at the natural compounds shown in research to be able to help the body combat inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer. To help readers here, I have listed below twelve simple things you might consider to turn down the Cox-2 enzyme – obviously the research references can be found in Cancer Watch .


 Twelve ways to reduce cellular inflammation, naturally



  1. Take a fish oil supplement every day. Eat more oily fish. Long-chain omega 3 is most effective at turning Cox-2 down.

  2. Take a 80 mg aspirin supplement with food daily or, better, sip aloe vera before breakfast and last thing at night. It contains 6 different anti-inflammatory ingredients.

  3. Eat raw garlic, fresh ginger and turmeric/curcumin (proving excellent in US research). If you don’t like to eat garlic, take a garlic oil supplement with cold water.

  4. Avoid steroids and tricyclic anti-depressants

  5. Control your insulin levels - eat 5/6 smaller meals a day, not one or two big ones, avoid sugar and high ‘glycaemic index’ (GI) foods* and don’t be over-weight.

  6. Avoid red meat and all cows’ dairy.

  7. Avoid all cigarette smoke.

  8. Avoid saturated oils and fats and, particularly, trans-fats.

  9. Consume olive oil and drink green tea; eat organic red grapes, or take resveratrol – the phenols in all are the active and calming ingredients.

  10. Be calmer! Try yoga and, particularly, meditation both shown to reduce ‘stress’ cortisol levels, even after the first session.

  11. Sleep in a darkened room, with regular hours. Or supplement with melatonin.

  12. Vitamin D has been shown in research to be very good at reducing inflammatory conditions, especially of the bowel. Go in the sun everyday for 30 minutes, or if the weather is gloomy take Harvard’s recommendation and supplement every day with vitamin D3.


* There’s an explanation and list in the Rainbow Diet.

For the Natural Selection ‘Products of Choice’ selection click here. All the hard work has been done for you to select only the best, all natural compounds with a plus.

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