Skip to comments.'Epigenetic' concepts offer new approach to degenerative disease (Dietary approach?)
Posted on 04/28/2010 4:17:12 AM PDT by decimon
ANAHEIM, CA In studies on cancer, heart disease, neurological disorders and other degenerative conditions, some scientists are moving away from the "nature versus nurture" debate, and are finding you're not a creature of either genetics or environment, but both - with enormous implications for a new approach to health.
The new field of "epigenetics" is rapidly revealing how people, plants and animals do start with a certain genetic code at conception. But, the choice of which genes are "expressed," or activated, is strongly affected by environmental influences. The expression of genes can change quite rapidly over time, they can be influenced by external factors, those changes can be passed along to offspring, and they can literally hold the key to life and death.
According to Rod Dashwood, a professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, epigenetics is a unifying theory in which many health problems, ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders, can all be caused at least in part by altered "histone modifications," and their effects on the reading of DNA in cells.
"We believe that many diseases which have aberrant gene expression at their root can be linked to how DNA is packaged, and the actions of enzymes such as histone deacetylases, or HDACs," Dashwood said. "As recently as 10 years ago we knew almost nothing about HDAC dysregulation in cancer or other diseases, but it's now one of the most promising areas of health-related research."
In the case of cancer, tumor suppressor genes can cause cancer cells to die by acting as a brake on unrestrained cell growth. But too much of the HDAC enzyme can "switch off" tumor suppressor genes, even though the underlying DNA sequence of the cell its genetic structure has not been changed or mutated. If this happens, cells continue to replicate without restraint, which is a fundamental characteristic of cancer development.
The good news for cancer and perhaps many other health problems is that "HDAC inhibitors" can stop this degenerative process, and some of them have already been identified in common foods. Examples include sulforaphane in broccoli, indole-3-carbinol in cruciferous vegetables, and organosulfur compounds in vegetables like garlic and onions. Butyrate, a compound produced in the intestine when dietary fiber is fermented, is an HDAC inhibitor, and it provides one possible explanation for why higher intake of dietary fiber might help prevent cancer.
"Metabolism seems to be a key factor, too, generating the active HDAC inhibitor at the site of action," Dashwood said. "In cancer cells, tumor suppressors such as p21 and p53 often become epigenetically silenced. HDAC inhibitors can help turn them on again, and trick the cancer cell into committing suicide via apoptosis.
"We already know some of the things people can do to help prevent cancer with certain dietary or lifestyle approaches," Dashwood said. "Now we're hoping to more fully understand the molecular processes going on, including at the epigenetic level. This should open the door for new approaches to disease prevention or treatment through diet, as well as in complementing conventional drug therapies."
Dashwood, who is also head of LPI's Cancer Chemoprotection Program, will be presenting some of this research in a talk titled "Metabolism as a key to HDAC inhibition by dietary constituents," at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's annual meeting. The talk will take place in Anaheim Convention Center Ballroom E on Wednesday, April 28 at 1:30 pm PST.
OSU scientists recently received an $8.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to explore these issues, making the LPI program one of the leaders in the nation on diet, epigenetics, and cancer prevention. The positive findings of laboratory research are already being converted to placebo-controlled human intervention trials on such health concerns as colon and prostate cancer, which are among the most common cancers in the United States.
OSU scientists have published a number of studies on these topics in professional journals such as Cancer Research, Cancer Prevention Research, Carcinogenesis, and Seminars in Cancer Biology. Among the most recent findings is that naturally occurring organoselenium compounds in the diet might prevent the progress of human prostate and colon cancer through an HDAC inhibition mechanism.
"Some therapeutic drugs already used for cancer treatment in the clinical setting probably work, at least in part, because they are acting as HDAC inhibitors," Dashwood said. "And what's most intriguing is that HDAC inhibition may affect many degenerative health issues, not just cancer. Heart disease, stroke, bipolar disorder, and even aging may all have links to HDAC/histone alterations.
"In the future, a single HDAC inhibitor conceptually could have benefits for more than one degenerative disease problem."
NOTE TO EDITORS: The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting is part of the Experimental Biology 2010 conference that will be held April 24-28, 2010 at the Anaheim Convention Center. The press is invited to attend or to make an appointment to interview Dr. Dashwood. Please contact Nicole Kresge at 202.316.5447 or email@example.com.
The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (www.asbmb.org) is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 12,000 members. Founded in 1906, the Society is based in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The Society's purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of scientific and educational journals: the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, and the Journal of Lipid Research, organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce.
Blue genes ping.
Broccoli or cancer.
This could be why the French, who have been drinking wine for generations, have low heart disease and why Americans who suddenly begin drinking wine for that will not see the same benefit.
Cooked right, it's a whole other thing.
The gene regulatory system is a complex network that is only dimly understood at this time. To claim benefit from certain nutrients because they happen to be vaguely involved in that network is mostly wishful thinking.
There's no proof that a low fat diet will make you live longer.......but it'll seem longer ";^)
These scientists completely ignore the fact that we already *know* the perfect diet to avoid cancer. It’s been proven by the Inuit, early Native Americans, Melanesians, Polynesians, and the West African’s over and over again: A high-fat, low-carb diet.
The Inuit’s typical meal was 1/3-1/2 fat, the rest protein and they had shockingly low cancer rates. (Until they started eating carb-rich Western diet.)
They also had no diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, strokes, cavities, appendicitis, ulcers, gallstones, hemorrhoids, varicose veins or constipation.
Every “primitive” population, eating a primarily carnivorous diet (40-70% of their calories from fat) displayed these remarkable traits, then succumbed to “diseases of civilization” when switching to a Western diet. *Every* one.
But the idiots just keep beating that low-fat drum.
I don’t think the dietary habits of native populations is comparative to our diet. Their genetic history and lifestyle experience is different from ours, as is life length. That perfect diet may be perfect... for them.
Thanks decimon.some scientists are moving away from the "nature versus nurture" debate, and are finding you're not a creature of either genetics or environment, but both... people, plants and animals do start with a certain genetic code at conception. But, the choice of which genes are "expressed," or activated, is strongly affected by environmental influences.It's a little thing we like to call Lamarckism. :') On Friday nights I make my own fun.
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Whoops, I screwed up *again*.
When I am extremely physically active it somehow makes sense to me to eat bacon or sausage.
When I’m not so active —I do lay off the fats.
Did the Inuit even have doctors who could pronounce that someone had such problems?
But I agree that low carb diet is better than the opposite.
That reference is a bit disingenuous and heavily biased.
“Mortality came mostly from accidents, warfare and infectious disease rather than chronic disease.”
“Excluding infant mortality, about 25% of their population lived past 60. Based on these data, the approximate life expectancy (excluding infant mortality) of this Inuit population was 43.5 years. It’s possible that life expectancy would have been higher before contact with the Russians, since they introduced a number of nasty diseases to which the Inuit were not resistant. Keep in mind that the Westerners who were developing cancer alongside them probably had a similar life expectancy at the time.”
So, yes, they had a low mortality, but they weren’t dying of cancer and diabetes until they started eating the typical Western diet. They were dying of accidents and warfare and infectious diseases they were being newly exposed to by contact with new populations.
If you look at the graphs, the highest death rates were infant mortality and 25-45 year olds. Are you saying that the 25 year olds were all dying of diet-related disease, but the 60-100 year olds were not?
Odds are that the men were dying in hunting accidents or while fighting and the women were dying in childbirth. (Which is a typical pattern for populations without modern medicine.)
No. 25% of the adult population living in a very rough arctic environment without ANY hospitals, antibiotics or emergency care is NOT short.
By contrast, 70% of the early American colonists were dead within the first two years of their journey. Should we blame that on diet as well?
The fact is that the Inuit had NO diabetes and almost no cancer until they began to eat a Western diet. Then did NOT suffer chronic disease until introduced to sugar and flour. This is well-documented by Western physicians who cared for the population.
Inuit who ate the Western diet had diabetes rates 500 times greater than the ones who ate the traditional diet. Cancer rates shot up in a population who made the dietary switch within just a few yeas.
(Read “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taube.)
“Field physicians in the arctic noted that the Inuit were a remarkably healthy people. While they suffered from a tragic susceptibility to European communicable diseases, they did not develop the chronic diseases we now view as part of being human: tooth decay, overweight, heart attacks, appendicitis, constipation, diabetes and cancer. When word reached American and European physicians that the Inuit did not develop cancer, a number of them decided to mount an active search for it. This search began in the 1850s and tapered off in the 1920s, as traditionally-living Inuit became difficult to find.
“One of these physicians was captain George B. Leavitt. He actively searched for cancer among the traditionally-living Inuit from 1885 to 1907. Along with his staff, he performed 50,000 examinations a year for the first 15 years, and 25,000 a year thereafter. He did not find a single case of cancer. At the same time, he was regularly diagnosing cancers among the crews of whaling ships and other Westernized populations.”
The fact is that carbohydrate consumption is the killer here and refined carbohydrates are the worst. Every single human population that moved from an animal-based fatty diet to a carb/plant-based diet has gone on the develop heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc. Although the Inuit are the prime example, there are many more that can be cited.
I highly recommend reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taube for an accurate overview and a break-down of the studies which show this correlation.
Here’s one more reference, then I’ll drop it.
Google: inuit ecology ppt and click on the first link.
It shows a powerpoint slide show. The second-to-the-last slide describes the most common causes of death among the original Inuit.
1. a) Accidents (drowning or freezing after capsizing)
b) Hunting accidents accounted for 15% of all male deaths
2. Feuds and murders
4. Female infanticide
My High School biology textbook made sarcastic, disparaging comments about Lamarck and how in this new era of enlightenment when we have everything worked out, how could anyone have believed his theories? The question that occurred to me was people in Lamarck's day were just as sure, so how do we know we've got it all right today? I was a troublemaker back then, too.
Just another reason I relish your Catastrophism and GGG posts. I admit to feeling a fair degree of schadenfreude as we discover we didn't know everything we thought we did back then. :-))
Try reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price written in the 1930s. He compared (with examples) traditional diets and recently introduced western diets.
Nice reference! I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen it quoted many times. I’ll add it to my reading list.
Here’s an article I think you’ll like: http://www.westonaprice.org/Guts-and-Grease-The-Diet-of-Native-Americans.html
I admit to feeling a fair degree of schadenfreude as we discover we didn't know everything we thought we did back then.We schaden froget that, either. :') Thanks ct!
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