Research shows that eating high amounts of red meat increases risk of colorectal cancer, possibly because it may spur inflammation. A new animal study published in The Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences now points to a sugar molecule found in red meat as one mechanism responsible.
The molecule called N-glycolylneuraminic acid, or Neu5Gc for short, sticks to the ends of sugars found in red meats such as beef, pork, and lamb. Although most mammals produce Neu5Gc, humans don’t. Humans are “immunized” against Neu5Gc shortly after birth by an unusual process involving gut bacteria. As a result, when people eat foods that contain Neu5Gc, we produce antibodies that react to Neu5Gc, triggering inflammation.
Previous research has detected relatively high amounts of Neu5Gc in cancerous tissue.
In foods, Neu5Gc can be free or it can be bound to the ends of long sugar chains attached to proteins. The bound form is highly bioavailable, meaning it can easily be taken up into the body’s cells. Neu5Gc tends to accumulate in cells of the colon, prostate, and ovary. Continue reading
Low alcohol consumption and a plant-based diet, part of AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, are associated with reducing the risk of colorectal and other obesity-related cancers, finds a new study, adding to a growing body of independent research on how following AICR’s recommendations links to lower cancer risk, longer survival, and improved overall health.
This latest study was published in Cancer Causes & Control. You can read more about the other studies investigating AICR recommendations here.
The Cancer Causes & Control study included almost 3,000 cancer-free adults who had no history of cancer. Participants were part of the ongoing Framingham Heart Study. Back in 1991, everyone filled out a questionnaire about how much they weighed, what they ate and their activity habits.
After almost 12 years, 480 of the participants had developed an obesity-related cancer, such as colorectal or breast.
Study researchers then scored how much participants met seven of AICR’s recommendations, giving them zero, half point or one point. The scoring included Continue reading
A growing body of evidence indicates that the trillions of bacteria that live in the digestive tract – might play a role in altering cancer risk. Now, a study suggests that how those bacteria are organized and where they are located in the gut might influence the risk of certain colon cancers.
The study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, focused on biofilms – communities of bacteria that help bacteria communicate with each other and grow more efficiently.
When bacteria organize into biofilms, they can breach the protective inner layer in the gut and invade the local tissue, promoting inflammation and possibly cancer.
We have an interesting relationship with the bacteria in our gut. Although many of the microbes provide beneficial services, bacteria – both “good” and “bad” – can cause us harm, so we keep them all at arm’s length, so to speak. Normal, healthy tissue in the colon is coated with a two-layered covering of mucus –a mesh-like outer layer and a gel-like inner layer. Whereas the outer layer creates a moist, cozy environment for bacteria, the inner layer is less hospitable: it provides the last line of defense against their invasion.