What’s Going On? April 26-30

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You are what you eat as the tired meme goes, but apparently you are what your grandmother ate as well; a new study outlines how rats descended from rats fed high fat diets similar to the American type diet are at greater risk for certain types of cancer. The study expounds on the field of epigenetics, which, “…refers to all the factors that control how a gene is expressed. The new study potentially adds to the growing body of research suggesting the epigenome may be at the root of many healthy problems.” …………… 

Knowing this, one must wonder if all the fuss about genetics has been overplayed. If environmental interaction with genes is as important as what genes you have, technically the responsibility for health still lies with you. In other words, you can’t keep blaming your genes for your weight, etc. I think Doug has beat the researchers to this point, and I also think he would do them one better by saying it isn’t even your epigenome’s fault, but the environmental factors interacting with the epigenome (mycotoxins, anyone?). The study also highlighted the fact that the fat used was of the omega 6 variety (the type dominant in vegetable and corn oils), and not the beneficial omega 3 type. 

Speaking of gene fuss, this article covers a short story of a California professor who sequenced his own DNA only to find that he was at risk for a heart attack. After seeing the results, his doctor prescribed him a statin of course, despite him having “within range” cholesterol. The fact that his doctor prescribed a prophylactic statin is rather infuriating; he would do well to read the epigenetic study listed above and perhaps change his diet to limit the risks. This situation brings up an important dilemma in our ever-expanding technology culture; how is the medical community going to use this preemptive genetic knowledge? With great power comes great responsibility someone said; if I found out I’m at risk for arm cancer, should I go ahead and save myself the trouble and lop off my arm? I certainly don’t think so. While I think this kind of technology is really cool and could have some wonderfully beneficial applications, as it becomes more available we are going to run the risk of being over-prescribed prophylactic treatments.

Vitamin E is being looked as a possible frontline defense against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease after a study found that 43% of patients taking vitamin E had improved liver function compared to those taking a placebo. The study should come as no surprise to most connoisseurs of natural health, but the doctors were apparently very surprised. This is definitely a score for our team though; this could open up more studies on vitamins for serious health problems once thought treatable only with dangerous drugs. 
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