Diet / Gene Interaction

Should I Take Aspirin to Prevent Heart Disease?

Everyone knows that aspirin protects against heart disease, right? Well, it turns out that aspirin may only protect some people from heart disease, and for others, it can actually slightly increase the risk of heart disease.  It all seems to depend on a variant of the COMT gene. Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is the gene that codes for an enzyme that breaks down dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, as well as other substances.  There are many studies on the common genetic polymorphisms of the COMT gene, and most of the studies focus on the neurological aspects of the enzyme. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association looked at the effect of a common COMT polymorphism on cardiovascular disease.  The study also looked at the combined effect of the variant along with either aspirin or vitamin E and cardiovascular disease. (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago
Diet / Gene Interaction

Vitamin K: CYP4F2 and VKOR Genetic Variants

Vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin that is needed by our bodies to synthesize the proteins responsible for blood coagulation.  Without vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone, bleeding is hard to control.  We get vitamin K1 from eating green plants, as phylloquinone is a part of the photosynthesis process. Vitamin K2 comes in several different forms (MK-4, MK-7, MK-8, MK-10) and helps maintain bone strength.  Additionally, higher levels of K2 has been shown to reduce calcification in the arteries [ref], as well as possibly playing a role in mitochondrial function.[ref] We get the highest amounts of vitaminK2 from pasture-raised eggs, dairy, and organ meat as well as from fermented soy (natto). We can also convert K1 toK2 in some organs of our bodies, and certain residents of our gut microbiome (E. coli especially) convert K1 to K2 for us. (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago
Diet / Gene Interaction

Your Drinking Genes: How well does your body break down alcohol?

Alcohol.  People have been imbibing beer and wine for millennia, enjoying alcohol ever since someone discovered the altered sensations from fermented fruits and grains. Archeologists recently announcing the discovery of an Egyptian brewery from the time of the great pyramid. What does alcohol do in our bodies? And why do people react differently to alcohol? (hint- it's genetic!) (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago
Diet / Gene Interaction

Are you at a higher risk for diabetes? Check your TCFL72 variants

Type-2 diabetes affects about 9% of the US population and millions other world-wide. In those over age 65, one in four people has type-2 diabetes. While the overall numbers are a bit staggering, it is interesting to note that the peak for new cases was in the '90s with a decrease in cases from 2005-2017.[ref] Diabetes is thought to be caused partly by environment and partly due to genetics. Genetic susceptibility has been linked to a number of different genes, but one that stands out as being particularly relevant to almost all populations is the TCF7L2 gene. The TCF7L2 (transcription factor 7-like 2) gene is involved in the regulation of blood glucose level with insulin by affecting the expression of pro-glucagon.  Variants in TCFL2 are tied to type-2 diabetes, obesity, higher BMI,  and larger waist circumference. The SNPs listed below have been found to up-regulate TCF7L2 in pancreatic beta cells.[ref]  The up-regulation is thought to impair insulin secretion from the beta cells rather than causing insulin resistance. [ref] [ref] Why is this important? If you have one of the TCF7L2 variants that increase your risk of diabetes, there are lifestyle and diet choices that have been shown in studies to negate that increased risk. (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago
Diet / Gene Interaction

Meat consumption, colon cancer, and your genes

The link between colon cancer and meat consumption has been trumpeted by vegetarians and heatedly refuted by paleo fanatics. My question, as usual, is: "What role does genetics play?" The World Health Organization includes processed meat on their list of probable carcinogens, based on several large epidemiological studies. According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of colon cancer is around 5%, and increasing that risk by around 20% would give a lifetime risk of about 6%. (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago


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