Does Red Meat Cause Cancer?

A new study reveals the truth about red meat and it's connection to cancer and other deadly diseases.

They say you’ve got everything if you have your health. But how many of us are actively taking steps to ensure a long, happy and healthy future? The fact is (whether we’re ready to face it or not), eating red meat on a regular basis is proven to cause cancer and other debilitating conditions. So every time you consume a juicy rib eye or tender rack of ribs, you’re potentially shaving precious moments—perhaps even years—off your life.

But this has been known for decades. Scientists and researchers have been aware of the cancer-causing properties of meats like beef and pork, but were unable to pinpoint the direct cause. According to Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, “It is beyond dispute that these foods contribute to colorectal cancer. You simply can’t be open-minded about it anymore because now the evidence is just open and shut.”

Just recently, in fact, a new study conducted at the University of California in San Diego reveals the true link between red meat and the formation of cancer. The culprit, as it turns out, is a rare sugar, known simply as Neu5Gc, which is unique to cows and other specific animals.

Cows Connected to the Development of Cancer

When humans take in regular doses of meats containing Neu5Gc, the body’s immune system begins producing special anti-bodies as a defense to the foreign substance. Ongoing production of these anti-bodies causes an inflammation of the immune system and ultimately leads to the production of cancerous cells and formation of tumors.

Dr. Ajit Varki, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at University of California, San Diego, says this about the groundbreaking study:

"Until now, all of our evidence linking Neu5Gc to cancer was circumstantial or indirectly predicted from somewhat artificial experimental setups. 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."

Dr. Varki also believes Neu5Gc may be the direct link between red meat consumption other diseases caused by chronic inflammation, such as atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.

So now that we know for certain that consuming certain meats on a regular basis carries a higher risk of cancer and other harmful conditions, what can we do to lower the amount of these meats we consume, without having to change our entire shopping and dining routine?

Fish is a Healthy Alternative to Red Meat

Simply reducing the amount of red meat you consume is a great way to start. Go with smaller portions and limit the number of times you consume to just two or three times a week. Instead of having beef, pork or lamb for dinner, go with something lighter and more beneficial like fish, which is high in protein, Vitamin D and healthy omega-3 fatty acids; or just eat more hearty, plant-based foods such as beans, baked potatoes or whole grain rice, all of which make fine replacements for red meat.

So if you’re serious about having a healthy, energetic lifestyle well into your later years, why take chances? Finding new ways to shop and dine, without relying on unhealthy staples like beef and pork, will ensure you live longer and help you get the most out of your life and body.