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 →
Beans have always come in handy when animal proteins were scarce; now they can stand in for red meat when you’re trying to cut back to eating no more than 3 ounces of lean red meat per day, as AICR recommends for lower cancer risk.
For a warming and satisfying meal, look no further than our Health-e-Recipe for Sweet Potato Bean Soup. Almost a stew, This rich-tasting soup is based on a rich low-sodium chicken broth enhanced with tomato paste, a product high in the protective phytochemical lycopene.
Simmered with nutritious onions and celery, chopped sweet potato chunks add plenty of the cancer-preventive phytochemical beta-carotene (also present in other orange vegetables and fruits, like carrots). Continue reading →
Over the past three decades there’s been a slight but steady decline in colorectal cancer incidence here in the US, thanks in large part to increased screening. Now a study out this week showing that rates of this cancer are increasing among young people — below the typical screening age — highlights the importance of people of all ages adopting healthy behaviors that can halve the risk of colorectal cancer.
The study – published in JAMA Surgery – found that among 20- to 34-year-olds, the data indicates incidence of colon and rectal cancer will increase by 90% and 124%, respectively, by 2030. Among the 35 to 49 year olds, rates are estimated to increase by 28% and 46%, respectively.
This large study confirms previous research on incidence trends, and it points to a growing public health problem, the authors note. Lifestyle and behavioral factors such as obesity may be a possible cause.
AICR estimates that half of all colorectal cancer cases are preventable if people were to eat healthier diets, move more and stay lean.