Sunday 1 November 2015

Red Meat and Cancer . Is there really a connection ? Part 2

            Now a quick rundown of the physiological mechanisms as to why red meat might or might not impact cancer. We've established that the key cancer here is colorectal cancer. So most of these mechanisims have to do with intestinal damage.Two of the villians in the red meat and cancer story are colours !Specifically, red and black. And one possible hero is also a colour: green.  

First suspect : NOCs
Red meat is red because of the red pigment in the blood.Part of this pigment can be processed in the gut into something called N-nitroso compuonds (NOCs),which can damage the gut lining.When this happens the gut repairs itself by cell replication, and DNA damage. This is not a good thing. Un processed red meat doesn't have as direct an impact on gut damage as does processed red meat . Basically, processed red meat forms NOCs much ,much faster than the meat itself.Luckily,most people don't eat an all-red-meat diet. And it turns out that if you eat green veggies with your meat,that risk of colon cancer risk can be substantially reduced ! Having some of that in your gut to compete with the pigment might reduce or potentially eliminate them from being turned into dangerous chemicals.

Second suspects: Heat compounds
The other villain is that delicious char that forms on grilled foods.It turns out that this char, and high cooking in general creates chemicals that can damsge the gut such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Red meat produces much higher levels of these chemicals than white meat.This is is an excellent example of why caveman/ paleo eating is not inherently healthy. Yet again, you have to consider the entirety of a meal. Certain veggies(like broccoli or Brussel sprouts) may substantially reduce the impact of HCAs in cooked meat. And.thank goodness,even marinades with certain spices can reduce HCAs.

             I hope you are learning something from all of this. Part 3 will follow soon. As you can see the whole red meat and cancer issue isn't as clear cut as we may have thought.   

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