Red Meat triggers toxic immune reaction, can cause cancer


News article:

Actual paper:

Excellent summary, posted below:

First, Varki is a behemoth in the emerging field of glycobiology. His research is usually top notch.

Secondly, he has some very interesting theories on evolution and the role that sugars might have played in our brain development. Outside of DNA, sialic acids (NeuNAc) have been called the most interesting molecules in all of biology. Near the same exact time millions of years ago when our ancestors evolutionary diverged from chimpanzees, we developed a mutation in an enzyme known as CMAH. CMAH catalyzes the addition of a hydroxyl group to sialic acid (NeuNAc) to produce Neu5Gc (NeuNAc w/ added -OH). One of the things that makes you uniquely human compared to almost all other mammals are the patterns of carbohydrates that cover the surface of your cells, and in particular, what makes you uniquely human is the striking lack of Neu5Gc on your cells compared to almost all other mammals. Sialic acids are heavily present in the brain, and are quite abundant on the surfaces of neurons; we now know that sialic acids have very profound roles in neuronal plasticity, memory, learning, and brain development after fertilization. The fact that humans were no longer able to synthesize hydroxylated forms of sialic acid (Neu5Gc) could have, in theory, had a radical effect on the way our brains evolved (according to Varki) because of the fundamental role that sialic acids have in modeling our brain during development and for memory/learning.

Sialic acids decorate the surfaces of all cells. As mentioned, all mammals besides humans have Neu5Gc on their cells. When you consume meat, Neu5Gc from your foods get stripped from the cells that comprise the meat you consumed and can be metabolically incorporated onto the surface of your cells. Glycobiology and your immune system has evolved in tandem over millions of years, and the fact that Neu5Gc isn’t human means it gets recognized by the immune system which in theory could lead to the results linked by the OP.

Gaining weight on Soylent

I’ve never consumed meat. I have no cancer. Causality!!

But seriously… interesting stuff, thanks for sharing!


Why is it specially red meat? Is white meat somehow immune to this effect?


Have you really never had meat? I’m a vegan but I’ve only been that way for 2 years, vegetarian for about a year before that (I’m 28).

So it’s just red meat that contains Neu5Gc? Very interesting paper.


According to my late grandmother on my father’s side, I would eat meat when she provided to me (and ONLY her) when I was under 2 years old (I’m 41 now). But there is nobody who has ever been able to corroborate this as far as I know, so it may have just been grandma wanting to be the favorite… who knows.

But other than that, no I have never had meat. For reasons also unknown to me, I would not consume it as a child, and from there it has forever been repulsive to me. But then the same is true of the vast majority of all other foods as well so… take that for whatever it’s worth.


My brother and his girlfriend don’t eat meat either for the same reason as you. They are just repulsed by it and think it tastes terrible. I could take it or leave it but it’s interesting to know that my brother isn’t the only one who feels that way.


Nope, they aren’t alone. I had people tell me numerous times as a kid that it was “impossible” for a human being to live without eating meat. I was always stunned at the absurdity of such a remark, but maybe I think too highly of humanity. LOL


laughs If you work a few years in retail you will lose that faith for humanity right quick and in a hurry. I heard similar things when I announced to my friends and family my intentions to go vegan. Despite 2 years being healthy, blood work, medical scans, and my own empirical evidence of being healthier, my family still doesn’t believe a human can survive without meat.


…but a nice big ribeye steak is too tasty!


I’m skeptical that a well thought out and executed vegan diet is any more or less healthy than an equally well thought out and executed omnivorous diet.


Never said it was. If what this research shows is true though, it might be a good idea to limit your red meat intake.


Seems to me like it’s all another way of saying “everything in moderation”. :wink:


Our ancestors went extinct because of red meat cancer.


Yep. Whatever you can possibly consider, it can both harm or be healthy for you. Moderation / limitations is key. The freakin’ internet makes pretty much everything you can think of into a boogeyman. Believe everything and live in a bubble.


Everything in moderation, including moderation. Gotta cut loose some times.


Yeah, gotta feast some times, and gotta fast some times…


People can live healthy on a meat diet (even red meat) or on a vegetarian diet. No idea about vegan though. In additions to excess consumption of meats/fats/added sugars its also the stuff added to meat like nitrosamines and other stuffs, used to preserve them and pesticides for growing vegetables/fruits and life-style activities/imbalanced diet etc etc that make people unhealthy.

Thats why we need Soylent :smile:


Point them to the millions in india :slight_smile:


That’s what has always baffled me about people who claim things like humans can’t live without meat. Are they really completely unaware that there are entire cultures of people that don’t eat meat??

But then people have mostly been pretty baffling to me with some of the inane things they do/say so… it fits. LOL


Maybe there is a connection between your meat-free pre-Soylent diet and your relative lack of gas since starting it. I have had bad gas from Soylent, and I was as close to being a simple carnivore as one could be beforehand. Steaks and cheeseburgers make life worth living to me. I like vegetables, but something about the texture of most fruits (and mushrooms) makes my skin crawl; my previous diet reflected these “preferences.”

How do others correlate their pre-Soylent meat consumption with their gas issues?


Yeah there could be something to that. But then again, despite not being a meat eater I’m also not a vegetable eater. I ate (and still eat, other than Soylent) almost exclusively grains/carbs, and some dairy (milk & cheese primarily). One thing I’ve noticed my entire life and has been corroborated by the women in my life, is that I have no body odor. Never have. I also barely ever sweat. I’ve never had to use deodorant or anti antiperspirant my entire life. And that’s even if I go 2 or 3 days between showers sometimes. Oh and with rare exceptions, my shit literally doesn’t stink. LOL I’ve always attributed all of this to my diet, since… what the hell else could it be??