Monday, 21 September 2015

Microbes ramp up red-meat risk

An interesting study has been reported in Nature. Microbes in the gut help to boost the risk of colon cancer when haem, the pigment found in red meat, is present. Haem in the diet has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer — the pigment damages cells lining the gut, which leads to excessive cell proliferation.

The reference is: Nature 524, 8 (06 August 2015) doi:10.1038/524008d

The digestive system is home to trillions of microbes. These microbes, collectively known as the microbiota, help break down our food, forming a variety of small compounds in the process. Researchers have revealed a pathway by which red meat can promote atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Essentially, bacteria in the gut convert L-carnitine, a nutrient abundant in red meat, into a compound called trimethylamine, which in turn changes to a metabolite named trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), which promotes atherosclerosis.

Posted by Tim Sandle