Nutrition

The position of meat and dairy viruses in most cancers

“Almost 20% of cancer cases worldwide can be linked to infectious agents, including viruses.” Seven viruses are now clearly linked to cancers in humans, and as new viruses enter the human population, the incidence and causes of cancer are likely to change accordingly.

The cornerstone of modern tumor virology was laid more than a century ago with the discovery of a carcinogenic chicken virus, for which a Nobel Prize was awarded. Another Nobel Prize went to the “doctor who became a virologist” who discovered that the HPV virus causes cervical cancer. In his acceptance speech, he considered that there might be a bovine polyoma virus – a multitumor virus found in cattle – that could play a role in human colon cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer, but that polyoma virus has never been detected in meat … until now.

As I discuss in my video The role of burger viruses in cancerPolyomaviruses are a particular problem – not only because they are known to be carcinogenic, but also because they can withstand cooking temperatures. Since a single burger today can contain meat from “many dozen animals”, the researchers believed that “this could be an ideal situation for virus hunting …” Researchers at the National Cancer Institute bought meat samples from three different supermarkets and found three different polyomaviruses in ground beef as you can see at 1:52 in my video. Just because three types of “polyomavirus species are commonly found in food-grade minced beef” does not necessarily mean that they cause disease in humans. Why did this Nobel Prize winner suspect you? For one thing, some people got cancer exactly where they had been vaccinated against smallpox – a whole range of different cancers, in fact. The vaccine was harvested from the skin of calves so “it is possible” that there may have been a carcinogenic cow virus.

“Many people are exposed to potentially virus-contaminated meat and dairy products through their diet,” but those in the industry, “such as farm workers, butchers, veterinarians and dairy workers,” would be even more exposed. Do these groups have a higher incidence of cancer? Indeed, it now seems clear “that meat workers are at increased risk of developing cancer and dying from it”.

Another reason to suspect that some type of bovine infectious factor is implicated in colon cancer is the fact that colon cancer rates appear to be relatively low in countries where beef does not eat a lot. And when meat consumption suddenly increases, the rates go up as you can see in my video at 3:15 am. “The only exception is Mongolia, where they have low colon cancer rates and eat a lot of red meat, but they eat yak there.” Maybe yaks don’t have the same viruses.

Can’t you just avoid tartare? Even cooked “medium” with steak may not reach internal temperatures above 70 degrees Celsius, and higher temperatures are required to inactivate some of these viruses. Hence, we would expect viruses to survive both cooking and pasteurization. In fact, researchers have published a paper suggesting that consumption of dairy products could be “one of the main risk factors for developing breast cancer” in humans. The recent discovery of a large number of suspected new viruses in the blood, meat and milk of dairy cows should be investigated, as one might speculate that infectious “agents” present in dairy products have a higher affinity for the breast [breast] Cells ”because they came from breast cells. The fact that people with lactose intolerance who avoid milk and dairy products throughout their lives have lower rates of breast and other cancers could be seen as a support for this concept. However, there are certainly other reasons dairy products can increase the risk of cancer, such as: B. the increase in the cancer-promoting growth hormone IGF-1 or the impairment of our intestinal microbiome. Or maybe the plant-based dairy products they drink instead could be protective. That is the problem with population studies: cause and effect cannot be worked out. It doesn’t matter how many viruses are found in retail beef, pork, and chicken as you can see in my 5:16 am video if we can’t connect the dots.

Can’t we just look for the presence of these viruses in human tumors? Researchers tried and found a few, but even if you can’t find any, it doesn’t necessarily mean viruses weren’t a factor. There is a “viral hit-and-run” theory of carcinogenesis, which states that certain viruses can slide in and out of our DNA to cause cancer, but are long gone by the time the tumor matures.

Its a lot to do. However, when the link between bovine polyomaviruses and human disease wears off, researchers at the National Cancer Institute envision developing a potent vaccine. Just as the HPV vaccine can prevent cervical cancer from unsafe sex, vaccines may one day prevent breast and colon cancer from unsafe sirloin.

This reminds me of the story of the bovine leukemia virus and breast cancer. Further information can be found at:

What about chicken? Check out The role of poultry viruses in cancers in humans and Poultry and penile cancer.

One of the problems with eating other animals is that we put ourselves at risk for their diseases. I have never once diagnosed anyone with Dutch elm disease or a really bad case of aphids. See Eating outside of our kingdom for more on this concept.

In health,

Michael Greger, MD

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