Meat eaters beware, because science has hammered another nail into the coffin of your coveted carnivorous lifestyle. A few days before the New Year was ushered in, researchers at UC San Diego published findings linking red meat consumption to certain types of cancer. The study, which has received considerable attention online because no one likes meat more than the Internet, highlighted the role of a sugar called Neu5Gc in forming tumors.
According to their findings, the sugar, not found in humans but hanging around the bodies of other mammals, can lead to spontaneous cancer in mice that have been altered to be deficient in Neu5Gc just like we are.
“This is the first time we have directly shown that mimicking the exact situation in humans — feeding non-human Neu5Gc and inducing anti-Neu5Gc antibodies — increases spontaneous cancers in mice,” said Ajit Varki, the main honcho MD behind the research, in the study’s press release. The engineered critters, when fed the sugars, developed tumors a plenty, never being exposed to other carcinogenic agents commonly associated with cancer.
So basically, anyone who’s still set on eating heaps and piles of meat without caring about the consequences, or negating the existence of said consequences, is up against similar heaps and piles of scientific evidence.
Varki said, though, that definitive proof of this’ll be more difficult in human subjects, commenting, “this work may also help explain potential connections of red meat consumption to other diseases exacerbated by chronic inflammation, such as atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.” Also, the good MD stated that young folks can chow on moderate quantities of red meat, including, yes, pork, because who ever believed that was a white meat (I’ll miss you, bacon).
For the curious carnivores who’re asking how much red meat constitutes the correct dosage, the International Business Times’ coverage of the study suggested 2.5 ounces of the stuff, or not even that much. That’s less than the average omnivorous human gorges on during any given meal.
Reading this study, and research that’s preceded it, I’m just a bit disappointed that scientists such as Varki end up being so diplomatic with their findings. I know that science is founded on a certain amount of doubt and subsequent discovery–it distinguishes itself as a way of understanding for not being doctrine–but the media and people with a more conservative bent are so very good at twisting an iota of doubt into digestible deniability for those who don’t like being told what to do.
In the film Supersize Me, which did raise awareness of the apocalyptic future of fast food while also garnering reactions reminiscent of, “that liberal ain’t going to tell me how to eat damnit!” we met a man named Don Gorske. This prodigious figure, from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, has eaten 25,000 Big Macs and is still operating like a normal human. Anyone looking at the science of why red meat is seriously dangerous in average American quantities need only look at seemingly magic individuals like Gorske and think, “well, his cholesterol is still fine.”
Science does have a long way to go in proving with only a shadow of a doubt that red meat is all around bad for human bodies, but there’s definitely enough evidence to take some leaps in how mass consciousness relates to beef, pork, and lamb. It seems from the ongoing Internet comments battle royale that it’s time to direct energy toward shutting our faces and just eating less red meat. It doesn’t take an empire of scientific inquiry to see its ill effects; goodness gracious, it’s almost as obvious as cigarettes, and humans still hate their bodies enough to bother with those things as well. Delicately savor that bacon, friends, and leave the gorging for delicious poultry and fish.