November 4, 2011
by: Michelle Bosmier
The influence diet has on human health has been an important subject of scientific focus during recent years. A study conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NUST) comes to show that eating habits have a more significant impact on the human body, with immediate consequences at a genetic level.
The study conducted shows that there is a definite connection between diet and gene expression, which explains why certain types of foods are healthier while others have a more negative impact on our well being. Gene expression here refers to the process through which genetic data is transformed into substances like proteins that are used for the functions at cellular level.
The scientists have concluded that balance is the key to being healthy, both in the quantity and the quality of what we eat, and that an increased intake of carbohydrates will lead to heightened activity levels in genes, including in the ones responsible for the onset of lifestyle diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer`s or even certain types of cancer.
“A healthy diet shouldn`t be made up of more than one-third carbohydrates (up to 40 per cent of calories) in each meal, otherwise we stimulate our genes to initiate the activity that creates inflammation in the body” said biology professor Berit Johansen.
Throughout the research, subjects were required to undergo a special 6 diet regime (consisting of 65% calories taken from carbohydrates and the rest of the calories taken from protein and fats), then eat without any specific dietary restrictions for another week, followed by another 6 days of dieting (consisting of half the amount of carbohydrates and increased levels of fats and proteins). Blood tests were conducted at the end of each diet restricted period.
The results were able to highlight the relevance of regular, smaller meals throughout the day and the importance of balance in what we eat. The recommended quantities for each nutrient group should be 1/3 carbohydrates, 1/3 fats and 1/3 proteins.
Stress has also been found to be a contributing factor to how we assimilate fats. Saturated animal fats should be avoided entirely, researchers say, while monounsaturated vegetable fats and polyunsaturated marine fats should be the source of lipids in a balanced meal. Avocados, whole raw milk, cashews, nuts and sesame seeds should provide for a healthier alternative to meat fats.
Essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids should also be part of regular meals, and are to be found naturally in flax seeds, butternuts, hemp seeds, pecan nuts or black raspberries. When it comes to proteins, there is no lack of ready to eat wonders of nature, like nuts, Nori leaves, green vegetables or root tubers.
June 10th, 2011
By: David Paul Morris
An Argentine laboratory announced that it had created the world’s first transgenic cow, using human genes that will allow the animal to produce the equivalent of mothers’ milk.
“The cloned cow, named Rosita ISA, is the first bovine born in the world that incorporates human genes that contain the proteins present in human milk,” Argentina’s National Institute of Agrobusiness Technology said in a statement on Thursday.
Rosita ISA was born on April 6 by Ceasarian because she weighed more than 45 kilos (99 pounds), about twice the normal weight of Jersey cows, according to the statement.
As an adult, “the cow will produce milk that is similar to humans,” the statement said.
“Our goal was to raise the nutritional value of cows’ milk by adding two human genes, the protein lactoferrin, which provides infants with anti-bacterial and anti-viral protection, and lysozyme, which is also an anti-bacterial agent,” said researcher Adrian Mutto at a press conference.
The cloning was a joint effort between the Argentine institute and the country’s National University of San Martin.
May 3, 2011
By Stephen Adams
The genes could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating hormonal breast cancer, also known as oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer, which is responsible for four out of five cases, or 36,000 a year in Britain.
In particular, they found one gene which appears to drive the growth of tumours.
The scientists, from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, said the discovery could in the future help patients whose breast cancers do not respond to drugs like tamoxifen.
They located the genes – named C6ORF96, C6ORF97 and C6ORF211 – in a very well studied part of the human genome, next to the oestrogen receptor gene, which is the main driver of hormonal breast cancer.
Dr Anita Dunbier, lead author of the study, which is published in the journal PLoS Genetics, said: “This is a surprising discovery. We found these genes in a place we thought we knew a lot about – it is like finding gold in Trafalgar Square.
January 4th, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
Alzheimer’s researchers are pushing for the disease to be redefined so that treatment can begin years earlier than under current practices.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and can currently be conclusively diagnosed only with an autopsy. It already affects more than 26 million people around the world, and this number is expected to triple by 2050.
“The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are progressive mental deterioration characterized by an inability to carry out daily activities, a loss of cognitive functions, and a loss of memory functions,” writes Tom Bohager in his book Everything You Need to Know About Enzymes.
“Extensive research studies indicate that the causes of Alzheimer’s disease can include genetic factors, age, environmental factors, chronic exposure to aluminum and/or silicon, and increased oxidative damage due to long-term toxic exposure.”
Dementia cannot currently be cured, but some drugs have been developed that attempt to slow its progression. Many of these drugs have limited effectiveness in the later stages of the disease, however, when symptoms have become severe.
For this reason, researchers from the International Working Group for New Research Criteria for the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease published an article in The Lancet calling for a new definition of Alzheimer’s.
Under the proposed definition, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis could be made in any patient suffering from episodic memory impairment who also tested positive for at least one biomarker that scientists have associated with the disease.
Biomarkers are chemicals in the body that imply the presence of a certain condition. One of the most well-known biomarkers is the prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is correlated with inflammation of the prostate gland.
“It’s very important for us to move from the old way of seeing Alzheimer’s disease to a new one that incorporates the importance of biomarkers,” said the working group’s Bruno Dubois. “There is no longer a reason to wait until patients have developed full-blown dementia.”
November 15th, 2010
By: Richard Alleyne
They have found that male hormones play a key role in promoting a specific genetic change that fuels the growth of tumours.
Identifying the genes that are regulated by these hormones is a major step forward in finding new therapies for the disease, which kills one man every hour in the UK.
The study focused on male sex hormones called androgens and their influence on fusing together genes.
These mutant genes, which have been found in several cancers, form when DNA from different parts of the genetic region of cells merge.
Exposure to androgens can cause genes that are normally far apart to fuse together.
In the latest study, a team led by experts at the Institute of Cancer at Queen Mary University of London, found that androgens promote the fusion of two specific genes which fuel the growth of cancer. They are the genes TMPRSS2 and ERG.
Dr Yong-Jie Lu, the lead researcher from the Institute of Cancer, said: “This is a significant discovery and a major breakthrough into the future prevention of the disease.
“It could also lead to new treatments.
“If we can learn how to control and manage androgen levels, there is a strong possibility that we may be able to help thousands of men, especially those known to be at high risk from a family history of prostate cancer, from developing the condition altogether.”
Rebecca Porta, chief executive of Orchid, said: “Every year over 35,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the UK.
“Now, more than ever before, we need to improve our understanding of this disease and to identify new ways to treat and manage it. The work of Dr Yong-Jie Lu is an important step in this direction.
“We are very pleased to be supporting his research programme.”
The work, published in the journal Cancer Research, was funded by the male cancer charity Orchid and the Medical Research Council.
Every year 36,000 men in Britain are diagnosed with prostate cancer, while 10,000 die.
It is the most common cancer among men in the country.
October 18th, 2010
By: Catherine Donaldson-Evans
Researchers at Yale University say they’ve identified a new gene that seems to trigger depression.
The scientists say the gene, MKP-1, might be a key contributor in the development of clinical depression.
“This could be a primary cause, or at least a major contributing factor, to the signaling abnormalities that lead to depression,” study lead author Ronald S. Duman, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale, said in a statement.
Duman and his colleagues did genome scans of the brain tissue of 21 deceased people who had been diagnosed with depression and compared them to the genes of 18 people who hadn’t been diagnosed with the condition.
They found that one gene, MKP-1, increased more than twofold in the brains of people who were depressed. That gene blocks a molecular pathway neurons need to survive and function properly, which, when rendered inactive, has been linked to depression and other disorders.
The team also discovered that when MKP-1 is impaired in mice, the mice become resistant to stress, but when it’s activated, they show signs of depression.
University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Dr. Christos Ballas said the study is flawed.
“You can’t say this is a gene for depression because it’s a gene for only one kind of depression,” he told AOL Health. “It’s a gene for a specific description of depression.”
Ballas said there is evidence that depression is in part genetic, but there are other factors involved in the illness.
“Certainly, there’s probably a common genetic component that makes us susceptible to depression,” he said. “But the problem is the effect of that gene is probably overwhelmed by the effect of everything else that happens in our life, including other genes.”
The findings were published October 17 in the journal Nature Medicine. Researchers say they may inspire a new class of antidepressants.
Doctors and scientists have had trouble pinpointing the causes of depression, which costs the United States $100 billion a year and affects nearly 16 percent of Americans.
Numerous physiological factors are believed to contribute to major depressive disorder, whose symptoms can vary from person to person. Patients given prescription antidepressants often respond differently to the drugs, and up to 40 percent don’t respond at all.
Ballas said that while the Yale research and other studies on depression genes are helpful, such findings aren’t revolutionary or applicable to all those who suffer from the condition.
“It is in no way generalizable to everybody,” Ballas said. “It’s much more useful to give a drug to treat the symptom than finding a gene for this one tiny aspect of depression. The more of these little genetic findings we get that don’t have any immediate usefulness, the more we minimize the environmental impact.”
October 14th, 2010
By: Jonathan Benson
It is common to hear both medical professionals and the population at large talk about certain diseases as if they are inherited from the family genes. Breast cancer is one such disease for which many women assume they have no control over its development because it “runs in the family”. But a new study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research helps put this medical myth to rest, noting that lifestyle habits and diet play a much more critical role in cancer development.
Dr. Robert Gramling, associate professor of Family Medicine, and Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), author of the study, found that regardless of whether or not women have a family history of breast cancer, staying physically active, eating well, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption reduces their risk of developing breast cancer to the same degree.
“It’s important to note that a family history of breast cancer can arise in part due to shared unhealthy behaviors that have been passed down for generations,” Gramling explained. “Untangling the degree to which genes, environments, and behaviors contribute to the disease is difficult. But our study shows that engaging in a healthy lifestyle can help women, even when familial predisposition is involved.”
Gramling’s study illustrates the importance of breast cancer prevention, a concept largely absent in society’s breast cancer awareness campaigns. There are plenty of ways women can avoid breast cancer right now simply by eating a nutritionally-rich diet packed with anti-cancer foods and herbs. And of course exercising and avoiding cancer-causing toxins help as well.
“Given the strong awareness of breast cancer and distress about inheritable risk, it is essential that scientists understand the actions women can take to reduce their risk,” noted Gramling.
October 12th, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has now approved the first crop genetically modified for increased consumer appeal, promising to spark a new battle between biotech rivals DuPont and Monsanto over control of the genetically modified (GM) soybean market.
The approved crop is a soybean engineered to be especially high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. The high-oleic soy had been pending deregulation since 2006, and is now cleared for commercial use. The company still intends to carry out further commercial testing before introducing the crop to the global market in 2012.
Also pending approval are two new GM soy varieties engineered by Monsanto, one to produce higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and one to produce oils with a longer shelf life. These latter oils are intended as a low-cost replacement for hydrogenated oils (trans fats), which are being widely phased out due to their proven contribution to heart disease and death.
The U.S. food industry currently purchases six billion pounds of soy oil each year, nearly all of it hydrogenated. Monsanto is hoping that the new GM variety will be appealing to farmers hoping to stem widespread profit loss due to the move away from trans fats.
With 90 percent of the U.S. soybean crop already coming from GM seeds, the approval of the new varieties is likely to touch off a major turf war between DuPont and Monsanto, with both companies trying to grab as large a share as possible of the lucrative market.
The new soy crops stand to become the first commercialized biotech crops engineered for a quality other than pest or herbicide resistance. They were all engineered by silencing the activity of genes in their fatty acid pathways, in contrast to the more widespread method of inserting new DNA from bacterial genes.
The approval of a GM crop engineered for nutritional purposes is expected to usher in a new wave of such products. Whether U.S. consumers are comfortable enough with biotechnology to willingly purchase such products remains to be seen.
July 27, 2010
By: S.L. Baker
Research has been steadily accumulating that olive oil, a main component of the Mediterranean diet, has extensive health-protective properties. For example, phytonutrient components of olive oil have been found to be effective against breast cancer cells (http://www.naturalnews.com/025633_c…) and studies suggest the abundance of olive oil in the Mediterranean style of eating may be the reason that diet helps prevent depression (http://www.naturalnews.com/027265_d…). Now scientists have discovered that phenolic compounds in olive oil directly repress genes linked to inflammation.
This could be especially important in halting the dangerous effects of metabolic syndrome. Characterized by excess abdominal fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels, metabolic syndrome is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and early death.
Research published in the journal BMC Genomics investigated changes in genes mediated by olive oil phenols (which are most abundant in the extra-virgin varieties of olive oil). The double-blind, randomized study, headed by Francisco Perez-Jimenez from the University of Cordoba, involved 20 research subjects, all with metabolic syndrome. For six weeks, the patients did not take any supplements or drugs and they were all placed on similar low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diets. Then, for breakfast, they ate either a breakfast containing virgin olive oil with a high content of phenolic compounds or a similar breakfast with low phenol content.
The research team took blood samples after the meals to check for the expression of over 15,000 human genes. The results? The high phenol olive oil clearly impacted the regulation of almost 100 genes — many of which have been linked to obesity, high blood fat levels, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“We identified 98 differentially expressed genes when comparing the intake of phenol-rich olive oil with low-phenol olive oil. Several of the repressed genes are known to be involved in pro-inflammatory processes, suggesting that the diet can switch the activity of immune system cells to a less deleterious inflammatory profile, as seen in metabolic syndrome,” Dr. Perez-Jimenez said in a statement to the press. “These findings strengthen the relationship between inflammation, obesity and diet and provide evidence at the most basic level of healthy effects derived from virgin olive oil consumption in humans.”
The ability of olive oil’s phenolic compounds to reduce or prevent inflammation also provides a molecular basis for the reduction of heart disease observed in Mediterranean countries, where virgin olive oil represents a main source of dietary fat.
April 23, 2010
by Ewen Callaway
Genes may not be the only way cancer passes down the generations. Feeding pregnant rats a fatty diet puts both their daughters and granddaughters at greater risk of breast cancer.
Sonia de Assis of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC and colleagues had discovered that the daughters of pregnant rats fed an unhealthy diet are more likely to develop breast cancer. Now they have shown that even if these daughters eat healthily, their offspring are still at greater risk of disease.
Rats don’t normally develop breast cancer, so de Assis had to give the granddaughters a chemical that induces tumours.
This put all the granddaughters at increased risk. Crucially, however, rats with grandmothers who ate a fatty diet were even more at risk. Twenty weeks later, half the rats whose grandmothers ate a normal diet developed breast tumours, while 80 per cent of rats with two grandmothers fed a high fat diet got tumours and 68 per cent of the rats with just did one developed cancer.