Study Suggests Fatty Acids In Red Meat And Dairy Could Enhance Cancer Fight

Study Suggests Fatty Acids In Red Meat And Dairy Could Enhance Cancer Fight

By Guardian Life

23 November 2023   |  
9:32 am

Eating red meat and dairy could aid in the fight against cancer, according to a new study conducted by scientists. The research reveals that a specific fatty acid present in beef, lamb, and dairy products enhances the body’s ability to combat and eliminate tumours. Published in the journal Nature, the study suggests that individuals with…

Eating red meat and dairy could aid in the fight against cancer, according to a new study conducted by scientists. The research reveals that a specific fatty acid present in beef, lamb, and dairy products enhances the body’s ability to combat and eliminate tumours.

Published in the journal Nature, the study suggests that individuals with higher levels of the fatty acid, known as trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), in their blood exhibited improved responses to immunotherapy. This implies that TVA could potentially serve as a nutritional supplement to complement clinical cancer treatments.

Co-author Professor Jing Chen from the University of Chicago commented on the findings, stating, “There are many studies trying to decipher the link between diet and human health, and it’s very difficult to understand the underlying mechanisms because of the wide variety of foods people eat. But if we focus on just the nutrients and metabolites derived from food, we begin to see how they influence physiology and pathology.”

The team began with a database of approximately 700 known metabolites derived from food and assembled a ‘blood nutrient’ library. By screening these compounds for their impact on anti-tumour immunity, they identified TVA as the most effective among the top six candidates in both human and mouse cells.

Professor Chen emphasized the significance of this discovery, noting, “After millions of years of evolution, there are only a couple hundred metabolites derived from food that end up circulating in the blood, so that means they could have some importance in our biology.”

Feeding mice a diet enriched with TVA resulted in a significant reduction in the growth potential of melanoma and colon cancer cells, as well as an enhancement of the body’s ability to infiltrate tumours. Further analysis of blood samples from lymphoma patients undergoing immunotherapy revealed that higher TVA levels correlated with better treatment responses.

While the study highlights the potential benefits of the fatty acid in red meat and dairy, the authors caution against excessive consumption of these foods. They express the hope of finding similar results in plant-based sources, as there is early data suggesting that other fatty acids from plants may activate similar pathways.

Professor Chen concluded, “There is a growing body of evidence about the detrimental health effects of consuming too much red meat and dairy, so this study shouldn’t be taken as an excuse to eat more cheeseburgers and pizza.”



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