Feb
04
2024

Beef and Dairy May Cause Cancer and MS

New cancer research suggests that chronic virus particles in beef and dairy may cause cancer and MS (multiple sclerosis). The Medical journal Medscape.com had a review article that summarized this line of research.

Papillomaviruses and cervical cancer

Harald zur Hausen, M.D., D.Sc., a German virologist, detected that papillomavirus causes cervical cancer. He was given the Nobel prize in Medicine in 2008 for “his discovery of human papillomaviruses causing cervical cancer”. In the meantime, we know that there are two strains, namely HPV-16 and HPV-18 that are carcinogenic. We also learnt that papillomavirus causes oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer and vulvar cancer. Since then, HPV vaccines are commonly in use for cancer prevention.

Evidence for causation of colorectal cancer

Professor Harald zur Hausen and his wife, Professor Ethel-Michele de Villiers, continued work on looking for viral particles in many other cancers. This led them to state that colorectal cancer was due to a latent viral infection. He determined that, when women were breastfeeding their infants for prolonged periods of time (about 1 year), they transmitted oligosaccharides with the breast milk to their offspring, which gave lifelong prevention against colorectal cancer to their children. He also showed that colon cancer patients had round particles in their intestinal mucous membranes, which consisted of single-stranded DNA rings.

Persistent viruses

The researchers said that they came from viruses and they named them bovine meat and milk factors (BMMF). In the same areas in the intestine, they detected acid radicals from oxidative stress typical for chronic inflammation. They postulated that infants who are weaned from breast milk prematurely, and started on cow milk formulas ingest BMMF. This infects the lining of the gut where a chronic subclinical BMMF infection gets established. Decades later the patient comes down with colorectal cancer. They established that children who are breast fed for 1 year do not get BMMF particles in the lining of their guts or colorectal cancer. They also don’t get MS in adult life.

Criticism of two regulatory agencies in Germany

The above results of professor zur Hausen and his wife were published in February of 2019. This led to a lot of press releases questioning these results. In Germany the consumption of beef and milk products is popular. The DKFZ (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum) felt that an “all-clear signal” was necessary. The Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) stands for the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, situated in Berlin. It is a substructure of the German government responsible for food safety. The second agency is the Max Rubner Institute (MRI) in Karlsruhe, also known as Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food. Both agencies started to investigate the facts of Prof. zur Hausen’s research. At the end of November 2022 the BfR and MRI made a joint statement. They stated the following:

  • BMMF were not new viral agents, but variations of already known DNA sequences.
  • BMMF commonly occurred in a variety of animal- and plant-based foods.
  • BMMF were not capable of infecting human cells.
  • It was true that consumption of red and processed meat correlates with the incidence of intestinal tumors.
  • However, consumption of dairy products are linked to a reduced risk of intestinal tumors.
  • There is no evidence that breast cancer would be associated with the consumption of beef or dairy.
  • They stated that milk products and beef are valuable supplementary diet components for infants due to their micronutrients. They further stated that dairy and beef products are safe for people of all ages.

Evidence for causation of multiple sclerosis

Professor zur Hausen and his wife, Professor Ethel-Michele de Villiers both worked at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. They pursued research about MS. MS is usually attributed to IgG1 and IgG3 autoantibodies that destroy Schwann cells. The Hausen research team found the following perplexing facts:

  • MS was associated with the consumption of dairy products and beef products.
  • They isolated ring-shaped DNA molecules (BMMF) from dairy and cattle blood.
  • Epstein Barr virus (EBV) also plays a role in initiating MS. MS patients have higher antibody titers against EBV.
  • One research paper noticed that MS patients in Antarctica secreted EBV in their saliva in the winter month. However, vitamin D3 stopped the viral excretion. This is very interesting as vitamin D is an important immune response stimulator.

More evidence:

  • They isolated BMMF particles from lesions of MS patients.
  • They noticed the old fact that MS is more common further away from the equator. Vitamin D production from sun exposure reduced cases of MS.
  • Prolonged breast feeding up to one year prevents life threatening rotaviruses and noroviruses in the newborn. The reason is exposure to oligosaccharides in breast milk. The mother starts producing breast milk in the middle of her pregnancy. It protects mother from tumors (including breast cancer), from MS later in life as well as type 2 diabetes.
  • The researchers formulated the hypothesis that both EBV and BMMF are responsible in patients to form MS lesions in the brain when vitamin D levels are low. A good dose of vitamin D3 every day may be helping to keep EBV and BMMF in a dormant phase.

Discussion

At this point there is no consensus why an increased consumption of beef and processed meat causes more colorectal cancer. The question is whether BMMF particles cause colorectal cancer or whether meat consumption experiences metabolization into carcinogenic substances? Either way it would be desirable to cut down on your red meat consumption.

With respect to MS, we know that autoantibodies are destroying the Schwann cells. But the question is why the immune system produces autoantibodies. Could it be that persistent EBV viruses switch the immune system from a normal to an autoantibody mode? Would BMMF be an additional factor?

Beef and Dairy May Cause Cancer and MS

Beef and Dairy May Cause Cancer and MS

Conclusion

Professor zur Hausen, a virologist from Germany and his wife Professor Ethel-Michele de Villiers researched persistent viruses. Professor zur Hausen detected the connection of papilloma viruses to cervical cancer. He received the Nobel prize in medicine 2008. They proposed the theory that newborns in their first year of life have an immature immune system. If they are fed cow’s milk and/or beef during the first year they accumulate bovine meat and milk factors (BMMF), which can subsequently lead to colon cancer or to MS as an adult. Two top German institutes banded together to criticize Prof. zur Hausen’s research.

Criticism of Professor zur Hausen’s research

The Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) stands for the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, situated in Berlin. It is a substructure of the German government responsible for food safety. The second agency is the Max Rubner Institute (MRI) in Karlsruhe, also known as Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food. These research institutes concluded that not all of the findings of Professor zur Hausen were valid. I listed 7 of their concerns. On the other hand, they agreed that it was true that consumption of red and processed meat correlated with the incidence of intestinal tumors. Time will tell which parts of the research ultimately will be valid and which are not.

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Sep
23
2023

Allergies to Red Meat after a Tick Bite

A new disease has arrived, allergies to red meat after a tick bite. This condition has surfaced in Australia and in the southeast of the US. It is linked to the bite by a lone star tick. Researchers determined that alpha-gal, which is galactose-α-1,3-galactose from the saliva of the tick is responsible for causing an allergy. Meat from mammals also contains alpha-gal. Due to a cross reaction between a lone star tick bite and alpha-gal in beef and other meats a person can develop a sensitivity to alpha-gal. This has the name alpha-gal syndrome (AGS). Between 2010 and 2022 the CDC recorded about 110,000 suspected cases of AGS in the US.

Symptoms of alpha-gal syndrome

A person who was previously sensitized by a lone star tick bite often only gets symptomatic after eating beef. The symptoms are hives, a skin rash, nausea or vomiting, heartburn or indigestion and diarrhea. Other symptoms could be a cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or a drop in blood pressure. Some patients develop swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or eye lids. Others complain of dizziness, faintness or severe stomach pains. These symptoms usually develop 2 to 6 hours after eating a meal with beef or dairy products. The person who was previously bitten by a lone star tick was sensitized following this encounter and produced specific antibodies against alpha-gal. The second encounter of the body from ingested alpha-gal containing food is the reason why the allergic reaction takes place. The more alpha-gal is ingested by different foods that contain it, the more severe the allergic reaction becomes.

Diagnostic tests for alpha-gal sensitivity

Allergists have the following tests available to them to check your immune system.

  • One test is called the alpha-gal U953 immunocap, a blood test.
  • The mammalian meats immunocap (Beef, Lamb, Mutton, Pork and Rabbit are available) shows specific antibodies as a result of exposure to these meats.
  • In severe cases of alpha-gal sensitivity blood tests for a mast cell tryptase level may also be necessary. This test can distinguish between a higher or lower risk of alpha-gel sensitivity. Tryptase is an enzyme, which is higher in people with mastocytosis. There is often an elevation of tryptase in patients who have allergies to both insect bites and tick bites.

Foods that contain alpha-gal

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy describes in great detail what foods contain alpha-gal and what not. The main culprit in developing alpha-gal syndrome is mammalian meat. The most popular among these is beef, but veal, pork, lamb, buffalo, venison, rabbit and guinea pig also belong into this category. Other meats are deli meats like bacon, ham, salami, silverside, chorizo, prosciutto and others. When a person reacts to eating one or more of these items, we are dealing with a cross reaction. It is between the alpha-gal from the original tick bite and alpha-gal from the meat the person ingested.

There are more obscure mammalian meats that contain alpha-gal: whale, dolphin, seal, goat, kangaroo, wallaby and possum. But gelatin products and fats from mammals also contain alpha-gal.

What foods do not contain alpha-gal?

The following foods are OK to eat for people with alpha-gal sensitivity: chicken, mollusks, crustaceans, turkey, quail, goose, fish, duck, eggs, legumes, lentils and soy products (tofu, tempeh). According to the allergy.org website, you have to be careful about jams, soups and gravies, as merchants often mix gelatines into their products. Stay away from energy drinks with taurine, sausages (even chicken sausage) and cheese spread. Avoid rennet, jelly-based lollies, mousses and desserts. All of them contain alpha-gal.

Treatment for alpha-gal syndrome

There is no known treatment for sensitivity to alpha-gal. However, experience has taught allergists that strict avoidance of alpha-gal in food improves the symptoms. After about 3 to 4 years of a strict diet that excludes alpha-gal many patients are no longer sensitive to alpha-gal and can tolerate a certain amount of alpha-gal in their diet. But others continue to be sensitive to alpha-gal. They have to adhere to strict avoidance of alpha-gal in food and stay away from tick bites.

Allergies to Red Meat after a Tick Bite

Allergies to Red Meat after a Tick Bite

Conclusion

A new condition, alpha-gal syndrome has joined the rare, but important group of new diseases. It is a sensitivity to a sugar, called galactose-α-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal. It is present in the mouth and saliva of the lone-star tick in the US and Australia. A bite from this tick can be the first sensitizer in a human. But unfortunately, alpha-gal is also present in many foods as mentioned in detail above. Repeated exposure to alpha-gal regardless of the origin causes hypersensitivity, which can get life-threatening. There is no treatment for this condition other than to adopt a very meticulous avoidance of alpha-gal in the diet. After 3 to 4 years of such a diet the hypersensitivity to alpha-gel disappears in many, but not in all patients. When the hypersensitivity persists, the patient has to continue with the alpha-gal avoidance diet.

Jul
30
2023

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

People who live in blue zones often turn 100 or older, so we can learn about longevity from the blue zones. The 5 most often cited blue zones are in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California, United States. But there are many more blue zones throughout the world. These zones contain the most centenarians, people who have reached the age of 100. It is thought that it is the people’s lifestyle that makes them live much longer than the rest of the world.

Lifestyle of centenarians

People are active, are bicycling, walking, swimming, constantly on the go and they are careful about what they eat. They stay slim, but are muscular. Their diet consists mostly of vegetables and salads, with very little meat. They may consume a small piece of beef on Sundays, but not during the rest of the week. Fish may be a part of their diet two or three times per week.

Diet characteristic of blue zones

Sandee LaMotte  published an article on March 4, 2023 at CNN, which describes the diet consumed in blue zones. People in blue zones are active, handle stress well, are close to friends, have a purpose in life and are often members of a social or religious group. They eat mostly a plant-based diet and they stop eating before they are full.

The food consists of complex carbohydrates. No processed foods are eaten. The American Heart Association says: “Complex carbohydrates, such as beans, peas, vegetables and whole grains provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that can go missing in processed and refined foods. In addition, they are digested more slowly, and the fiber helps you feel full longer.”

Origin of blue zone foods

The blue zone food has its roots in the African, Asian, Latino and Native American diets. Dan Buettner originally published an article about the blue zones in the National Geographic Magazine. Recently he published a collection of 100 blue zone recipes in book form.

The Mediterranean diet is very close to blue zone eating.

What blue zone meals contain

Buettner said: “The five pillars of every longevity diet, including the blue zone, are whole grains, vegetables in season, tubers, nuts and beans. In fact, I argue the cornerstone of a longevity diet is beans.” People in blue zones eat similar foods as those who eat a Mediterranean diet, but they do not eat as much fish as people on a Mediterranean diet. People on a blue zone diet don’t eat any milk products. On the other hand, goat and sheep’s milk cheeses such as feta and pecorino are part of the blue zone diet. In the blue zones the consumption of purple sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, fresh vegetables and fruit are the major staples.

More info about Blue Zone diet

All of the meals contain complex carbohydrates, micronutrients and a whole variety of fiber.

Perhaps the important difference to the Standard American diet is that in the blue zone there is a lack of beef, hamburgers, processed foods and highly processed carbohydrates like bread, pasta, sugar-sweetened beverages, salty snacks like potato chips, candies, cookies and processed meats (bacon, sausages or cold-cuts). People in blue zones eat very little bread and if they do, they eat sourdough bread, which does not raise the blood sugar level as the highly refined white bread.

Recapturing healthy foods

So, what foods are blue zone people really eating? Tofu, quinoa, mushrooms, lentils, beans, turnip greens, artichokes, asparagus, chickpeas and spinach are the main staples of their nutrition. They stay away from sugar, rarely eat meat (once or twice per week) and otherwise have a healthy lifestyle. Scientists think that longevity comes from the healthy lifestyle and diet, which centenarians practice. Several longevity genes get activated as explained in this publication. This translates into living long lives with very few illnesses and experiencing energy until the end of their lives.

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

Conclusion

We can learn a lot from observing what centenarians eat and do. Scientist have investigated the lifestyle of people living in blue zones in various parts of the world. These zones contain the most centenarians, people who have reached the age of 100. People in blue zones eat mostly vegetables and very little red meat. They avoid sugar and processed foods. But they are also very active, have a rich social life and allow themselves enough sleep. Scientists accumulated evidence that genetic longevity switches are activated by the life style of people living in blue zones.  It is the activation of these epigenetic switches that are responsible for the longevity of people in blue zones.

Jun
18
2022

Tick Bites Can Render You Allergic to Red Meat

Tick bites can render you allergic to red meat. This comes from the alpha-gal syndrome, which is a type of food allergy. It is a tick with the name of Lone Star tick that transmits this syndrome in the southeastern United States.

Deer carries the Lone Star tick into other parts of the US. The bite of the tick transfers a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the person’s body. Subsequently the person develops a sensitivity to red meat, like beef, pork and lamb. Red meat membranes are rich in the sugar alpha-gal. The allergy can also be directed against other mammal-related products like milk protein. Often the person is unaware of this type of allergy, alpha-gal syndrome. In this case people continue to get exposed to red meat and mammal products, and the immune reactions become more severe over time. Anaphylactic reactions that are not due to food allergies have a high probability to be due to alpha-gal syndrome.

More details about the alpha-gal syndrome

Alpha-gal is the abbreviation for Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, which is a carbohydrate. It is part of most mammalian cell membranes, except for primates. The immune system in humans recognizes it as a foreign body and produces anti-alpha-gal antibodies. It is the bite of the lone star tick in North America or the castor bean tick in Sweden that can start the allergy to alpha-gal. If a person has frequent anaphylactic reactions, the physician should think of alpha-gal syndrome, which could be the underlying cause.

Sensitization of the human host

When the lone star tick bites mice, rabbits or deer it takes up alpha-gal sugar. Subsequently, when the tick bites a human, the alpha-gal sugar is injected into the human host together with its saliva. This alarms the immune system and antibodies are produced. When the human host later consumes meals with red meat, the body reacts to the previous sensitization to alpha-gal sugar by the tick bite. The antibody response to alpha-gal sugar from further red meat meals becomes even stronger than before. The only relief for human host from immune reactions is to switch to a diet that is free of red meat.

Allergic symptoms

The alpha-gal allergy can manifest itself by skin rashes, welts, skin itchiness, swelling, shortness of breath, headaches, belly aches, diarrhea and vomiting. In serious cases an anaphylactic reaction can occur, which in some cases can be lethal.

Protein allergies versus carbohydrate allergies

Until 2009 medical science believed that allergies would only be due to proteins. One such example are allergic reactions to peanuts. It is the peanut protein that can cause allergies. Subsequently, the alpha-gal allergy became known, which involves the sugar galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose. This was the first sugar molecule that researchers could demonstrate to mount an allergic reaction, from which the human host could turn sick.

Tick Bites Can Render You Allergic to Red Meat

Tick Bites Can Render You Allergic to Red Meat

Conclusion

The Lone Star tick in the southeastern US carries the sugar galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (for short alpha-gal) which originates from bites of mammals that are not primates (cattle, pigs and lambs). When the tick bites a human, the immune system produces antibodies against alpha-gal. This can produce skin rashes, welts, skin itchiness, swelling, shortness of breath, headaches, belly aches, diarrhea and vomiting. But when the person recovers from the tick bite, a lifelong sensitivity against reed meats remains. Every time a sensitized person consumes a red meat meal the same symptoms, as originally experienced from the tick bite, return.

Abstinence from red meat

The only remedy for the alpha-gal syndrome is to abstain from red meat. The cell membranes of the muscle of red meat contain the sugar alpha-gal. Seafood, chicken, eggs and turkey meats are OK for consumption. But the patient has to be diligent about not making any dietary mistakes. If intermittent red meat exposure continues, a more severe allergy can develop. These have the name of “anaphylactic reactions”, where the patient is in danger of suffocating or even die from it.