Vegan Health ArticlesMeat Molecule Builds Up in Human Tumors
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From Michael Greger, M.D.

For years there has been suspicion that components of meat and dairy were absorbed whole through the human digestive tract, triggering autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and childhood diabetes as our bodies try to fight off these foreign substances. Last month (Oct 2003), researchers published new evidence that a substance found in lamb, pork, beef and dairy can build up in human tissues and may contribute to chronic disease.

If you take autopsy samples, you can find traces of a molecule called NeuGc in human tissues, particularly in human tumors (especially breast cancer). And you can find relatively high concentrations of anti-NeuGc antibodies in human blood. This mystified researchers, as human beings can not produce this substance. But other animals can. Maybe, the researchers proposed, human beings absorbed it from eating these other animals.

So the researchers went vegan for a few days to clear their system (no animal-derived ingredients in foods or drugs or shampoo), and then basically drank a glass of diluted pig mucous. Within days this invading meat molecule could be found oozing from their bodies, in their saliva, urine--even their hair clippings.

Maybe, the researchers speculate, this is why meateaters have such higher rates of cancer and heart disease compared to vegetarians. Yes, they acknowledge it could just be the saturated fat in meat and dairy, but maybe it's also because of the incorporation of this foreign substance found exclusively in animal products (plants don't produce NeuGc either). The researchers found it particularly interesting that vegetarian diets seem to improve rheumatoid arthritis. Maybe this reactive alien molecule also triggers autoimmune diseases like hepatitis and arthritis.

This article was published in the proceedings of the most prestigious scientific body in the United States, the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers end their provocative article wondering what the long-term consequences might be of constantly challenging our immune systems in this way, and what the long-range implications are of having anti-Neu5Gc antibodies circulating throughout the bodies of meateaters and milk-drinkers.[1]


[1] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100(2003):12045.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.