Health Blog

Red Meat and Dairy Take Toll on Immune System

December 9, 2008

Nestled in two trapezoids on the second tier of the food pyramid, dairy and red meat are often lauded as sources of calcium and protein but linked to cancer and high fat diets. New research from scientists at the University of California, San Diego provides more evidence for the cancer-causing properties of these foods.

The study suggests that red meat and dairy products contain a molecule that humans don’t naturally produce called Neu5Gc. Human cells absorb this compound, and over time the body produces antibodies against it. After years of ingesting milk and meat, constant antibody production may trigger a mild, but continuous inflammatory immune response. This kind of chronic inflammation has long been linked to cancer.

But questions remain. Each person responds differently to the compound, says molecular biologist Ajit Varki who helped design the study. His upcoming work will examine how genetic and environmental factors could affect the way our bodies handle the molecule.

As for his own diet, he’s playing it safe. “I am not a vegetarian,” he wrote in an e-mail. “But I don’t need to be to avoid Neu5Gc.” He added that chicken, eggs, and poultry are free of the molecule. “I just avoid lamb, pork, beef and milk,” he said.

Correction (December 9, 2008): The original headline read “Red Meat and Dairy not Kosher for the Immune System” and the first paragraph, which has been deleted, read “Good news for kosher-keeping Jews. The biblical taboo against consuming meat and milk from animals with hooves may reduce cancer.” Thanks for the heads up from the commenter below.
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Arieh Lebowitz says:

The headline and first ‘graph are not at all connected to the news of the article.

While there is a biblical taboo against consuming meat and milk from animals with hooves – or eating mild products and meat products at the same time – nothing in the article related anything about non-kosher meat or dairy products having any more of that molecule that humans don’t naturally produce called Neu5Gc thank osher meat or kosher dairy products. So why would kosher-observant people who do not eat these non-kosher products but their kosher analogues be any healthier?

Similarly, another key aspect of “keeping kosher” is not eatlig {kosher} meat products at teh same time as {kosher} dairy products. Again, nothing in the article says that this would have any effect in terms of that molecule.


Arieh Lebowitz says:

Well, at least we know ths item is being read.
Another article on this subject, “Study Shows How Meat Spurs Cancer Growth,” here concludes:

For anyone interested in reducing inflammation through natural, non-drug methods, here are seven top strategies to incorporate into your lifestyle:
1. Stop eating meat and dairy products.
2. Concentrate on a Mediterranean flavored style of eating with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains , olive oils and nuts. Research has shown these foods lower inflammation levels.
3. Don’t smoke and avoid those who do – second hand smoke can contribute to inflammation.
4. Know your oils. Avoid all inflammation-causing trans-fats, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils as well as saturated animal fats. Instead, add inflammation-fighting omega-3 oils like flaxseed, canola and walnut oil to your diet.
5. Lose weight if you need to. Research has shown that a waist that measures over 40 inches in a man or over 35 inches in a woman is a sign of probable high inflammation.
6. Don’t skimp on sleep. Previous studies have concluded less than six hours of sleep can result in inflammation.
7. De-stress. Try yoga, meditation, walking and other forms of exercise. Staying continually stressed out means your body is releasing excess, inflammation-promoting stress hormones. Schedule a minimum of 20 minutes a day to let your worries go.

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