A New Connection between the Gut and Brain

A surprising way that diet leads risks of stroke and cognitive impairment

A New Connection between the Gut and Brain

It is well known that a high salt diet leads to high blood pressure, a risk factor for an array of health problems, including heart disease and stroke. But over the last decade, studies across human populations have reported the association between salt intake and stroke irrespective of high blood pressure and risk of heart disease, suggesting a missing link between salt intake and brain health.

Interestingly, there is a growing body of work showing that there is communication between the gut and brain, now commonly dubbed the gut–brain axis. The disruption of the gut–brain axis contributes to a diverse range of diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Consequently, the developing field of gut–brain axis research is rapidly growing and evolving. Five years ago, a couple of studies showed that high salt intake leads to profound immune changes in the gut, resulting in increased vulnerability of the brain to autoimmunity—when the immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues by mistake, suggesting that perhaps the gut can communicate with the brain via immune signaling.

Now, new research shows another connection: immune signals sent from the gut can compromise the brain’s blood vessels, leading to deteriorated brain heath and cognitive impairment. Surprisingly, the research unveils a previously undescribed gut–brain connection mediated by the immune system and indicates that excessive salt might negatively impact brain health in humans through impairing the brain’s blood vessels regardless of its effect on blood pressure.

This research proposes new therapeutic targets for countering stroke—the second leading cause of death worldwide—and cognitive dysfunction. Reducing salt intake is applicable to people around the globe, as nearly every adult consumes too much salt: on average 9–12 grams per day or around twice the recommended maximum level of intake (5 grams) by the World Health Organization.

The researchers used mice, and found that immune responses in the small intestines set off a cascade of chemical responses reaching the brain’s blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the cortex and hippocampus, two brain regions crucial for learning and memory. This, in turn, brought a decline in tests of cognitive performance. The impairment in learning and memory was clear even in the absence of high blood pressure; they observed that the gut is reacting to the salt overload and directing immune signals that lay the basis for deterioration throughout the brain’s vital vascular complex and compromise cognitive function. While this study has only been carried out on research animals so far, the scientists believe it’s likely that much of the same applies to people.

Lowering salt intake has been shown to have beneficial effects to overall health, so the researchers wanted to know whether these effects extend to this newly identified signaling cascade that begins in the gut and targets the brain’s blood vessels to, ultimately, affect cognitive function. When the mice were returned to a normal diet after being on a high salt diet, the detrimental health effects caused by excess salt intake were erased. A pharmacological intervention that disrupted the immune signals also reversed the effects.

The implications of this newly identified gut–brain connection extend to several autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease, that have been shown to activate the same immune signaling pathway implicated in this study. These autoimmune disorders have a high stroke risk and are linked to poorly functioning blood vessels in the nervous system. This research is also a demonstration that what we eat affects how we think, and that seemingly isolated parts of the body can play vital roles in brain health. These results motivate research on how everyday stressors to our digestive systems and blood vessels might change the brain and, consequently, how we see, and experience, the world.

Folic Acid may lower Stroke Risk in Hypertensive patients


Walking ability after stroke improves with arm exercise


8 Health Conditions That Disproportionately Affect Black Women

And what you can do to prevent some of them

Although being black in this world certainly comes with its struggles, I wouldn’t trade that integral part of my identity for anything. Black-girl magic is real. But it’s a sad fact that black women are often plagued with disproportionately high incidences or mortality rates for various health conditions, like heart diseasebreast cancer, and more.

It sounds scary—and it can be—but knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your physical and mental health. Here are eight health conditions black women should be especially aware of, plus how to best prevent them.

1. Heart disease, stroke, and diabetes

These conditions often occur together or exacerbate each other, and they’re striking black women hard.

Around 7.6 percent of black women have heart disease, compared to 5.8 percent of white women and 5.6 percent of Mexican-American women, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2011-2013. In 2016, around 46 of every 100,000 black women died from strokes, while 35 of every 100,000 white women did. And while white women’s diabetes diagnosis rate is 5.4 per 100, that number is 9.9 per 100 for black women, according to CDC data from 1980-2014—almost double.

Infographic of the heart disease/stroke/diabetes racial disparities

A group of risk factors known as metabolic syndrome increases a person’s chance of getting these diseases. These risk factors include having a waist circumference above 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men, high levels of triglycerides (fat in the blood), a low HDL (“good”) cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar.

Someone must have at least three of these factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, but having even one can signal higher chances of getting heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Those first two are particularly lethal, killing one woman about every 80 seconds.

The black community’s obesity crisis is a symbol of just how at-risk this segment of the population is. “The vast majority of African-American adult women are either overweight or obese,” Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, tells SELF. While 37.6 percent of black men ages 20 or over are obese according to the latest data, that number jumps to 56.9 percent for black women. It stands at 36.2 percent for white women.

Various genetic components are likely at play with metabolic syndrome—for instance, some research points to a gene that might make black people more sensitive to salt, thus influencing blood pressure—but much of this issue is societal.

“It’s the foods we eat—many communities don’t have easy access to healthier options,” Dr. Hutcherson says. A 2013 study in Preventive Medicine found that “poor, predominantly black neighborhoods face…the most limited access to quality food.” Dr. Hutcherson also cites stress and adds that a lack of exercise can be a problem, too, if it’s hard to get access to a gym or the neighborhood isn’t safe.

Lifestyle changes like eating better, exercising, and stopping smoking can prevent 80 percent of heart disease events and stroke and lower people’s chances of developing diabetes, according to the CDC. But clearly, that’s sometimes easier said than done.

2. Breast cancer

Black women have a 1 in 9 chance of developing breast cancer; for white women the odds are 1 in 8, according to the American Cancer Society. But black women are more likely to die from the disease: White women’s probability of dying from breast cancer is 1 in 37, while black women’s is 1 in 31.

“The reasons why black women are more likely to die [from breast cancer than other groups] are very complex,” Adrienne Phillips, M.D., oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, tells SELF, citing “an interplay between genetics, biology, and environment.”

Along with BRCA mutations (which may be higher in black women than experts previously thought), black women are more likely to get triple-negative breast cancer—a particularly aggressive form of the disease—than women of other races. Then there are the environmental factors Dr. Phillips mentions, like socioeconomic issues that lead to trouble accessing early diagnosis and treatment.

Much like metabolic syndrome, lowering your risk of getting breast cancer mainly comes down to exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, not going overboard on alcohol, and quitting smoking. And even though major organizations haven’t found a notable benefit from breast self-exams, many doctors strongly recommend you check your breasts monthly so you’re aware of any changes.

3. Cervical cancer

Research published in January in the journal Cancer found that not only are black women more likely to die of cervical cancer than women of other races, they’re also 77 percent more likely to die from it than experts previously thought. Prior estimates said 5.7 black women per 100,000 would die of the disease, but this new research puts the number at 10.1 per 100,000.

“Unlike breast cancer, cervical cancer is absolutely preventable in this day and age,” Dr. Phillips says. “In 2017, no woman should be diagnosed with cervical cancer.”

That’s partly because the HPV vaccine is excellent at preventing infection of certain strains of human papillomavirus that can go on to cause cancer. But as of August 2016, only 6 out of 10 girls ages 13 to 17 and 5 of 10 boys in the same age range had started the vaccine series, which doctors recommend getting before age 26 for optimal results. Racial disparities are relevant here—a 2014 report from the CDC showed that around 71 percent of white girls 13 to 17 had completed the three-shot series, compared with about 62 percent of black girls in that age group. (The CDC changed these recommendations in 2016: It now says only two doses are necessary for optimal protection if the patient is between 11 and 12, but three are still ideal if the patient is between 15 and 26.)

Timely Pap smears are also wonderfully effective at preventing full-blown cervical cancer. “A Pap smear will detect preinvasive cervical cancer, but…studies have shown women who are having Pap smears may not get appropriate follow-up,” Dr. Phillips says. “A number of barriers exist for proper follow-up, and African-American women may be more vulnerable.”

Another potential factor, though, may be racial disparities in cervical cancertreatment. A 2014 study published in Plos One found that black women in Maryland were significantly less likely than white women to get surgery for cervical cancer instead of radiation or chemotherapy.

“Equivalent treatments are not being administered to white and black patients with cervical cancer in Maryland,” the study authors concluded. “Differences in care may contribute to racial disparities in outcomes for women with cervical cancer.”

A 2016 study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reached a similar conclusion. The study looked at more than 16,000 patients who had received care for advanced cervical cancer, finding that white women received National Cancer Institute guideline–based care 58 percent of the time, black women 53 percent of the time, and Hispanic women 51.5 percent of the time.

4. Fibroids

Black women are three times more likely than women of other races to get uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors in the walls of the uterus, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Fibroids are largely genetic, and there’s no known way to prevent them.

“Most of the time, women don’t know they have fibroids because they don’t have symptoms,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “But when [the fibroids] start to grow or increase in number, they can cause a large number of problems, from pain to bleeding to miscarriages, to problems with urination and problems with bowel movements.”

When fibroids do make themselves known, the first sign is often heavy bleedingor pelvic pain, Dr. Hutcherson says.

These symptoms can have a lot of other causes, but if you do have fibroids, you and your doctors can work on a treatment plan. To tackle heavy bleeding and pelvic pain, your doctor may recommend hormonal birth control. But doctors can also perform a myomectomy to remove the fibroids or use techniques like uterine artery embolization and radiofrequency ablation to either block the fibroid from getting nutrients or shrink it.

If you’re done having children or are not interested in having them in the first place, as a last resort, doctors can perform a hysterectomy to put a definitive end to fibroids. Since this makes it impossible to get pregnant, it’s an incredibly delicate decision that varies from woman to woman.

5. Premature delivery

Giving birth prematurely, or going into labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy, can predispose a child to breathing issues, digestive problems, brain bleeding, and long-term developmental delays. It can also lead to death—the earlier a baby is born, the higher this danger becomes.

Unfortunately, black women are particularly susceptible to going into labor too early. According to the CDC, the 2015 preterm birth rate in black women was 13 percent; for white women it was 9 percent.

Infographic of the preterm birth rate racial disparity

“This is multifactorial—it can be affected by obesity, by stress, by diet, by increased vaginal infections, and the decreased access to care in some of our populations,” Dr. Hutcherson says. Women having access to prenatal care is incredibly important for slashing the risk of preterm birth, but when socioeconomics come into the picture, it becomes a complex situation with too few solutions. However, the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health is working on a variety of state- and national-level initiatives to reduce preterm birth in all women.

6. Sickle cell disease

This is an umbrella term for a collection of inherited, lifelong blood disorders that around 1 of every 365 black babies is born with, according to the CDC. Sickle cell disease is caused by a sickle hemoglobin, which happens when the structure of a person’s hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to the red blood cells, is abnormal. Instead of being circular, their red blood cells can look like sickles, a C-shaped farming tool, Dr. Phillips explains.

Sickle-shaped red blood cells can get destroyed in the blood stream, so patients may become anemic. These cells can also clog blood vessels, which can lead to infection, chest pain, and even stroke. And if a pregnant woman has sickle cell disease, it increases the probability of miscarriage, premature birth, and having a baby with a low birth weight, according to the March of Dimes.

Black women who are considering children should get screened for sickle cell no matter what, Dr. Phillips says. It’s possible to not have the disease but have the sickle cell trait, meaning you inherited one sickle cell gene and one normal gene from your parents. If your partner also has sickle cell trait, there is a 25 percent chance your child will inherit sickle cell disease. According to a CDC estimate from 2014, 73 out of every 1,000 black newborns was born with sickle cell trait, compared with 3 out of every 1,000 white newborns.

With proper care and caution to avoid complications, kids with sickle cell disease can live healthy, happy lives, Phillips says—it’s essential for their parents to get the proper education about how to keep them safe.

7. Sexually transmitted diseases

Here’s a bit of good news: Rates of reported chlamydia cases in black people decreased 11.2 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to the CDC. There was a similar downward trend with gonorrhea, which declined 4 percent in that time frame. But black women still outpace other groups when it comes to new diagnoses of these diseases, along with new diagnoses of syphilis.

This problem also extends to HIV/AIDS. Besides black men, black women comprise a majority of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses per year (although the number is thankfully falling). For example, according to the CDC, in 2015, 4,524 black women were diagnosed with HIV in the United States, while 1,431 white women and 1,131 Hispanic/Latina women received the same diagnosis.

“It’s not like black women are having more sex than anyone else,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “Access to good preventive care is the crux of it—if [women] could see health care providers on a regular basis and be educated about what they should be doing to take care of themselves, we probably wouldn’t have as much of a problem.”

Economic insecurity is also an element—condoms and dental dams cost money, after all—as is a general reticence to discuss safe sex.

“There’s a stigma around talking about sex, so people engage in risky sexual activity without protection,” Dr. Hutcherson says.

8. Mental health issues

In addition to the usual biological culprits that can contribute to mental illnessissues, economic insecurity and racism can negatively impact mental health status in the black community.

Overall, black people are 10 percent more likely to report experiencing serious psychological distress than white people, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

“In 2017, we still face a lot of economic insecurity and racism in general. It’s a problem that causes stress and anxiety, which then can lead into depression, and that’s something we never discuss,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “I wish we could make it more acceptable to talk about this and seek care.” Just like in many other cultures, the black community is wrestling with the stigma of seeking help for mental distress. There’s also the reduced access to this kind of counseling in the first place, and the fact that mental health care can be prohibitively expensive. Many counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists don’t take health insurance, which may deter people from getting the help they need. Combined, these factors resulted in 9.4 percent of black adults getting mental health treatment or some form of counseling in 2014 versus 18.8 percent of white people age 18 and older, per the Office of Minority Health.

Black women are especially vulnerable to wrestling with their mental health, consistently reporting higher feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and the sense that everything is an effort than white women do. “Black women are frequently the pillars of our community, taking care of everyone’s health but our own,” Dr. Phillips says. “But it’s very important for women to practice self-care and not forget about themselves when trying to be so strong.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, help is out there. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a comprehensive page about mental health concerns in the black community and a help line that operates Monday through Friday, 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. NAMI also provides a list of 25 different help lines people can turn to when they need support.

COMPASS Trial: Aspiration as good as stent retrievers for large vessel clot removal in stroke


Ginkgo Biloba Improves Cognitive Function after Stroke… or Not

randomized trial found that ginkgo biloba may improve cognitive function after an ischemic stroke. But the study may not be fully-flowered, as F. Perry Wilson, MD, explains in this 150-Second analysis. In fact, it may be a prime example of a statistical artifact known as “Lord’s paradox.”

A randomized trial, appearing in the journal Stroke and Vascular Neurology, found that ginkgo biloba – the ubiquitous supplement – improved cognitive function among patients with acute ischemic stroke.

Or… did it? The trial brings up an interesting statistical quirk, but one that can have big implications for studies like this.

Researchers in China enrolled 348 patients who had an acute ischemic stroke within the past 7 days. They were randomized 1:1 to the ginkgo group or usual care.

This is problem number one. No placebo control. Patients knew they were getting ginkgo – an ancient herb that might help improve their brain function. That knowledge alone might be enough to move the needle a bit on cognitive tests.

How much was the needle moved?

 The primary outcome here was based on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or “MOCA.”

This is a validated test for cognitive impairment, with higher scores being better – much like the Mini-Mental Status Exam we know and love.

Take a look at the MOCA scores over time in the two arms of the trial.

At the beginning of the trial, the MOCA scores in both arms of the study were about the same – 19 or so. By 180 days later, scores in both groups had gone up a bit – a bit more in the ginkgo group, but not enough to achieve statistical significance.

But I said earlier that ginkgo “improved outcomes.” What gives?

Well, the primary outcome was not just MOCA score, it was change in MOCA score from baseline to 180 days.

What you see here is that change, and indeed, the ginkgo group improves more over time than the control group.

But how is that possible? How can the average MOCA score be the same in both groups, but the change in MOCA score be significantly different? Well this is a statistical phenomenon known as Lord’s paradox and it can happen when one simply examines change scores without taking into account baseline scores.

This picture illustrates Lord’s paradox.

You can see how, overall, the scores end up in pretty much the same place, but on the individual level, every person in the treatment group does better than every person in the control group.

So what we’re seeing is a rather weak effect. A strong ginkgo effect would be visible regardless of how you analyze the data. And the lack of an adequate placebo control is probably enough to account for the small observed benefit. So for now the data on this particular herb is not fully-flowered.

Can a hair salon sink wash be a stroke risk?

Getting hair washed in a salonHyper-extended necks can cause damage to important arteries running into the brain

A man who suffered a stroke after getting his hair washed in a salon has been talking about his “life-changing injury”.

Doctors who treated him said it was likely to have been a case of “beauty parlour syndrome” – which can occur when the neck is over-extended.

This can damage arteries, which can lead to a clot and then a stroke.

But the Stroke Association said the risk was “very small”, and experts said hairdressers should use a cushion.

Dave Tyler, 45, told the Daily Mail that two days after he visited a salon in Brighton, he started having headaches and collapsed during a business meeting.

He also felt his body go numb.

Mr Tyler spent three months in hospital before learning to walk again with a stick, but he still can’t drive and is often in pain.

Although he didn’t feel any discomfort at the time his hair was being washed, he told BBC Radio 5 live that hairdressers should “be aware that something like this is possible”.

He settled out of court and was paid £90,000 by the hairdressing salon in February.

The term “beauty parlour syndrome” has been used to describe this type of injury, which is rare.

Alexis Wieroniey, from the Stroke Association, said a stroke could be caused if the lining of an artery in the neck was torn.

If the carotid artery, which goes directly into the brain, is dissected or damaged, then blood clots can form over time and cause a stroke.

She said: “There is a very small chance that an injury might be caused by extending your neck back in a chair to have your hair washed, but no definitive link has been established between hair washing and strokes.”

Bungee jumping

Pippa Tyrrell, professor of stroke medicine from the University of Manchester, said this type of whiplash injury was more likely to occur in road traffic accidents or when skiing, diving or bungee jumping.

And she said it was difficult to pinpoint when the damage was actually done.

“Someone might have had the injury before, already damaged the artery and only noticed it when they got their hair washed,” Prof Tyrrell said.

She said carotid dissection could be a cause of stroke at any age and if anyone was suffering from headaches and neck pain down one side, they should see medical attention.

Diagram of arteries into the brainThe carotid artery is one of the main arteries that runs into the brain

In 1997, medical journal The Lancet published a report on a 42-year-old woman who had had a stroke after having her hair washed.

In the report, two British doctors said the stroke had been due to damage to the right internal carotid artery, which had left her with numbness and slurred speech.

The doctors recommended that hairdressers used a cushion to make sure that the neck was not overextended.

In a small observational study in 2000, American doctors concluded that people who regularly suffered from pain and dizziness should be cautious about having a salon sink hair wash.

Earlier this year, a 48-year-old woman from California sued a hair salon after she suffered a debilitating stroke after getting her hair washed.

What is stroke?

A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off.

Most strokes are caused by the blood supply to the brain being cut off, called an ischaemic stroke.

Strokes can also be caused by bleeding in or around the brain – a haemorrhagic stroke.

Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to your brain. And without them, brain cells can be damaged or die.

This damage can affect the way your body works as well as how you think, feel and communicate.


Scientists Have Finally Discovered Why Consuming Red Meat Causes Cancer

Many people grew up being urged to eat pork, beef, and dairy products for their health, but in recent years have received advice to cut back on animal products especially red meat. 

According to a number of studies, the consumption of red meat is linked with increased risk for cancer(s), atherosclerosis (heart disease), stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even Type II Diabetes…  But until now, researchers have not exactly understood why.

As The Telegraph reports, scientists from the University of California in San Diego believe it mainly has to do with sugar. 

While humans, as omnivores, can tolerate eating meat (and have been doing so for many years, but not in the quantity witnessed today) there is unique sugar named Neu5Gc, found in most mammals but not in humans, that triggers an immune responsewhich causes inflammation.

Mice were used for the study which found that all the evidence linking Neu5Gc to cancer was circumstantial or indirectly predicted from experimental setups. According to the scientists, this is the first time they mimicked the exact situation in humans through feeding non-human Neu5Gc and inducing anti-Neu5Gc antibodies. This increased spontaneous cancer in mice.

This sugar can be found in red meats (pork, beef, and other livestock), cow’s milk and certain cheeses. Because the human body is not capable of producing this sugar naturally when the sugar is absorbed into the tissues, it is perceived as a foreign invader and activates the immune system. It is suspected that over time, the chronic inflammation caused by the immune system response plays a role in the development of cancer.

Thus, those who consume red meat on a regular basis are likely to suffer a stronger reaction than those who ingest red meat occasionally.


Massive 10-Year Study Has Linked Diet Soda To Heart Attacks And Stroke

So you’ve decided to take control of your diet and try and live a healthier life, but you just can’t resist soda. In your mind, you rationalize the decision and decide that you can keep drinking it as long as you switch to diet soda instead. It’s a choice that millions of people make every year, as the clever marketing departments of large soda companies convince us that switching to diet is a perfectly healthy alternative.

The reality is that these claims are simply untrue! Most soda manufacturers use an artificial sweetener, called aspartame, to replace sugar. A new study carried out by the University of Iowa, has shown that this chemical is linked to an increased likelihood of heart disease.

Dangers of Drinking Diet Soda

The study, headed up by Dr. Ankur Vyas, was one of the most comprehensive of its type with nearly 60,000 women participating over nine years. Known as the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, the research found that participants who drank two or more cans of diet soda a day were 30% more likely to have a cardiovascular event (e.g. heart attack) and 50% more likely to die of a heart-related disease than someone who drank none.

‘This is one of the largest studies on this topic, and our findings are consistent with some previous data, especially those linking diet drinks to the metabolic syndrome,’ said Vyas. Given the scale of the study and the fact that approximately one in five people in the United States consume diet drinks on a daily basis, the results could prove to be hugely significant to overall public health.

The 59,614 participants were split into four groups by the research team: two or more diet drinks a day, five to seven diet drinks per week, one to four diet drinks per week, and zero to three diet drinks per month.

After nearly nine years the health records of each woman was analyzed and the results were that coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, coronary revascularization procedure, ischemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and cardiovascular death, occurred in 8.5% of the women consuming two or more diet drinks a day compared to 6.9% in the five-to-seven diet drinks per week group; 6.8% in the one-to-four drinks per week group; and 7.2% in the zero-to-three per month group.

The results, on the surface, didn’t appear to fit the hypothesis that aspartame was one of the leading causes of heart disease. However, the records showed that alongside the slightly higher rate of heart-related health issues, the women in the two or more a day group were, on average, significantly younger than the women in the other groups, meaning the diet sodas were causing health issues at an accelerated rate. The women in this group also had the highest average BMIs, the rate of diabetes and highest average blood pressure.

Despite the scale of the study, no official conclusion can be drawn but the initial signs are worrying. ‘Based on these and other findings we have a responsibility to do more research to see what is going on and further define the relationship,’ Vyas explained. ‘This could have major public health implications.’

Several more research projects have been commissioned since the publication of the University of Iowa’s results, in order to deduce the scale of the issues that aspartame can cause. However, the advice in the meantime is to cut out soda drinks from your daily life and even if you do occasionally indulge; regular soda is actually better for you than the diet variety.

The money pumped into making diet soda appear as a healthy alternative is further proof that many large companies are far more concerned with lining their pockets than benefitting their consumers. When it comes to the things you eat and drink, make sure you know exactly what you are putting into your body.

Scientists Have Finally Discovered Why Consuming Red Meat Causes Cancer

Until recently, the reason WHY red meat causes cancer hasn’t been understood. But this breakthrough changes everything…

Many people grew up being urged to eat pork, beef, and dairy products for their health, but in recent years have received advice to cut back on animal products especially red meat. 


According to a number of studies, the consumption of red meat is linked with increased risk for cancer(s), atherosclerosis (heart disease), stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even Type II Diabetes…  But until now, researchers have not exactly understood why.

As The Telegraph reports, scientists from the University of California in San Diego believe it mainly has to do with sugar. 

While humans, as omnivores, can tolerate eating meat (and have been doing so for many years, but not in the quantity witnessed today) there is unique sugar named Neu5Gc, found in most mammals but not in humans, that triggers an immune response which causes inflammation.

Mice were used for the study which found that all the evidence linking Neu5Gc to cancer was circumstantial or indirectly predicted from experimental setups. According to the scientists, this is the first time they mimicked the exact situation in humans through feeding non-human Neu5Gc and inducing anti-Neu5Gc antibodies. This increased spontaneous cancer in mice.

This sugar can be found in red meats (pork, beef, and other livestock), cow’s milk and certain cheeses. Because the human body is not capable of producing this sugar naturally when the sugar is absorbed into the tissues, it is perceived as a foreign invader and activates the immune system. It is suspected that over time, the chronic inflammation caused by the immune system response plays a role in the development of cancer. 

Thankfully, great alternative foods exist to satiate your desire for a juicy hamburger. For example, the ‘Impossible Burger’ is renowned as one of the best ‘veggie burgers’ available, and there are great ways to make your own plant-based burgers at home.

In conclusion, it seems clear that those who limit their intake of red meats are assured a healthier – and less inflamed – life.

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