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Do cow's milk and beef make us sick?
The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is currently warning of a newly discovered pathogen that is very common in cow's milk and beef products. Researchers found several connections between the so-called BMMF pathogens from milk and meat from cattle and the occurrence of colon cancer and breast cancer. Furthermore, the pathogens are suspected of causing chronic inflammation.
In a ten-year research project, a team led by cancer researcher and Nobel laureate Harald zur Hausen discovered a novel pathogen that is found in almost all European cow's milk and beef products. According to the researchers, the “Bovine Milk and Meat Factors” (BMMF for short) are said to increase the risk of colon cancer and possibly also of other types of cancer such as breast cancer and chronic diseases. The current state of research was recently presented at a press conference of the German Cancer Research Center.
The pathogen is already widespread
The team examined the blood sera from hundreds of European dairy cows, as well as numerous samples of milk and milk products from supermarkets. Hundreds of human blood samples from healthy people and people with colorectal cancer were also examined. The researchers found what they were looking for everywhere. "We are probably all already infected with BMMFs," says the research team.
A previously unknown pathogen increases the risk of cancer
On the basis of the examinations and data to date, the team made the following hypothesis: Infection with BMMF often occurred early in infancy or childhood. The pathogen then settles in the intestine and breast and triggers a chronic inflammatory reaction that promotes the development of cancer. In this way, a tumor can develop even decades after the infection.
The list of indications is long
The current results do not yet provide definitive evidence as to whether cow's milk consumption increases the risk of cancer. However, one thing is certain: red meat can cause cancer - this has been proven by numerous studies. From the current geographic analysis of the distribution of colon and breast cancer, there are many more indications for the connection between cow's milk, beef and the occurrence of cancer. As the researchers found
- are the highest colorectal cancer rates in the regions of the world with the highest per capita consumption of milk and beef products.
- regions with low consumption, such as India, where the cow is sacred, have very low colon and breast cancer rates.
- The number of new breast cancer cases increased in the Indian region, where cow's milk was introduced to care for children.
- women with lactose intolerance are less likely to develop breast cancer.
Beef is not just beef
The pathogen appears to be mainly in European cattle (Bos taurus), because in countries like Bolivia and Mongolia, despite high beef consumption, there are low colon cancer rates. However, it is not European cattle that are bred here, but cattle from the Zebus (Bos indicus) line. Data from Japan and Korea also support this thesis, since there was a sharp increase in colorectal cancer after meat products from European cattle were imported.
Do not give cow's milk to babies too early
The team around Nobel laureates zur Hausen suspects that not eating beef and cow's milk cannot protect you from the BMMF pathogen after you have already been infected. However, the researchers advise against feeding or feeding cows' milk to babies under the age of one. It is best for the child's immune system to breastfeed over this period. This provides better protection against the infection. If, on the other hand, the children are infected with the BMMFs too early, an immune tolerance can develop and the pathogens have free rein. (vb)