New pathogens in beef and cow's milk products: More research required

June 11, 2019

According to the DKFZ, they have been detected up to now in cow's milk, cow's milk products and the blood serum of healthy cattle. From the scientific findings made up to now, it seems possible that an indirect connection could be interpreted between the consumption of various foods originating from cattle and the occurrence of several cancer types in humans.

According to the DKFZ, BMMF are a new pathogen similar in type to both viruses and bacteria. Because they are related to plasmids, t hey are currently being called "plasmidomes". As far as can be established by the DKFZ researchers, the BMMF do not occur as "naked" genetic material but rather together with proteins.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and Max Rubner-Institut (MRI) jointly conclude that an assessment of the possi ble risks posed by so-called BMMF as possible cancer risk factors has not been possible up to now due to the inadequate data situation. The presumed connection between the BMMF and the incidence of cancer in humans should be examined further.

The DKFZ is assuming that infants whose immune system has not yet fully matured become infected with BMMF during their first year of life through supplementary feeding with cow's milk. They therefore conclude that infants should not be given cow's milk too early.

In line with the latest available information regarding nutrition, the BfR and MRI agree with the following recommendation: On the basis of the epidemiological studies published up to now on the connection between the consumption of red and processed meat and an in- creased risk of colon cancer and in concurrence with the German Nutrition Society (DGE), it is recommended that meat consumption be limited to a maximum of 600 grams per week. Contrary to this, the consumption of cow's milk without any restriction is still recommended in compliance with the latest available knowledge. Breastfeeding in order to prevent various diseases is also fundamentally advocated.
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BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

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