Red meat from beef, pork and lamb has long been suspected. But now a US long-term study with over 500,000 participants shows that outright meat eaters die more likely than fish or poultry fans.
Since not only models and stars have been promoting low-carb diets for quick weight loss, but university clinics have also been starting high-protein diets, meat fans have had the upper hand. In times of steadily rising weight curves, more and more doctors believe: Steak and salad – it fills you up, makes the pounds disappear, and is therefore healthy. But can it be healthy to eat so much red meat?
Study: risk of red meat?
Large scientific studies show a different picture: population groups that eat a lot of red meat die earlier than others. In 1995 researchers from the American Cancer Institute started a long-term project on the subject of “red meat”. They asked over 500,000 Americans about their food preferences and followed their fate for over a decade.
Those who regularly eat more than 125 grams of meat per day and have a preference for sausage and ham increase their risk of dying early. The researchers had calculated other possible health risks such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise so finely that even the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment found nothing wrong with them. In addition, the results coincide with the EPIC study, which has been running Europe-wide for 15 years and is researching the relationship between diet and cancer.
Why is red meat so unhealthy?
There are always plenty of suspects among the ingredients of sausage and meat. Some researchers consider saturated fatty acids to be a definite culprit; others believe that substances that are formed during smoking and curing are responsible for the shortened life expectancy. The indispensable trace element iron, which red meat contains in large quantities, is sometimes suspected.
And intestinal specialists point out that regular consumption of large portions of red meat in the large intestine produces significant amounts of harmful substances. You can choose from ammonia (a liver toxin), nitrosamines, phenols and cresols (carcinogenic), endogenous oestrogens (suspected of causing breast cancer), secondary bile acids (causing colon cancer) and other harmful substances. But all of these are more or less guesswork!
Red meat wakes sleeping cancer cells?
Hardened meat lovers therefore put their ears on draft and think: As long as nobody can tell me what is harmful about my schnitzel, I will continue to eat as before. This attitude could change now. Recently, scientists from the influential University of California, La Jolla, San Diego, published a horror story that is taken seriously in the world of science. It is about tiny intruders who come from red meat and who nestle in our cells as uninvited guests after dinner.
There, according to Ajit Varki, medical professor and recognized expert in cell biology, they are causing more and more harm over time. But above all, they wake up sleeping cancer cells. Varki and his team wanted to find out whether and how meat is involved in the development of diseases. Eventually, the researchers came across a substance called “Neu5Gc”. The human body does not make this substance. Nevertheless, he found himself repeatedly in cancerous tumors. So it had to come from food. It was not in fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables and fruit; after all, the researchers found it in red meat.
Malefactor “Neu5Gc” is in red meat
They observed that “Neu5Gc” is absorbed by the tissue after a meat meal and settles there in the cells. Our immune system regards the foreign substance as an enemy and forms antibodies against the “intruder”. With every meal, more and more nano-small, quietly simmering inflammations develop, called “inflammation” by researchers. Many scientists worldwide suspect that they are the common cause of chronic diseases such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and, last but not least, cancer.
So it will be good to cut red meat in favor of other sources of protein. Researchers from Harvard also believe this and only recommend red meat in micro-portions in the nutritional advice they have published (Food Pyramid).