Meat Consumption Could Enhance Immune’s Ability To Fight Cancer, Study Shows

In Education

According to a recent study, the consumption of red meat and dairy products may play a role in preventing cancer. The study found that a fatty acid called trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), which is present in lamb, beef, and dairy can enhance the immune cells’ ability to fight tumors.

Additionally, higher levels of TVA in the blood were associated with more positive responses to immunotherapy. The study suggests that TVA could potentially be used as a nutritional supplement to enhance cancer treatments.

Eating meat enhances cancer treatments

Jing Chen, the study’s senior author, stated that understanding the relationship between diet and human health is challenging due to the wide range of foods people consume. However, by examining the metabolites and nutrients derived from food, researchers have discovered how they can impact pathology and physiology. In particular, the study found that certain nutrients can activate T cell responses and enhance anti-tumor immunity by activating a crucial immune pathway.

The researchers constructed a library of around 700 metabolites derived from food, which they referred to as the “blood nutrient” library. They evaluated the impact of these metabolites on anti-tumor immunity and discovered that TVA was the most potent among the top six candidates in both human and mouse cells.

Prof. Chen emphasizes the significance of a few hundred metabolites from food circulating in the blood after millions of years of evolution. He finds it fascinating that a nutrient like TVA has a specific impact on immune cells and elicits profound physiological responses.

TVA rich diet reduces tumor growth

The study demonstrated that a diet enriched with TVA (conjugated linoleic acid) in mice led to a significant reduction in tumor growth for melanoma and colon cancer, along with enhanced tumor infiltration by the body. Elevated TVA levels in blood samples from lymphoma patients undergoing immunotherapy were linked to better treatment responses.

Furthermore, TVA improved the effectiveness of an immunotherapy drug in killing leukemia cells in patients. The authors caution against excessive red meat consumption due to known health risks and are exploring plant-based alternatives for the same compounds.

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