Hormones

Thyroid Hormone Levels and Your Genes

The thyroid is a master regulator of many of your body's systems. It is integrally involved in metabolism and helps maintain body temperature, heart rate, breathing, and body weight. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the front of your throat (right below the Adam's apple for men). [ref]   [caption id="attachment_3441" align="alignright" width="300"] Thyroid gland location. Image source: public domain, wikimedia.org.[/caption] Your genes play a big role in how well your thyroid works and how your body produces and converts the different forms of thyroid hormone.   More people than ever are having problems with low thyroid levels. In 2016, the #1 prescribed drug in the US was Synthroid, a synthetic thyroid hormone with 123 million people on the drug.[ref] Thyroid hormone levels play a vital role in how you feel and in your overall good health. If you have thyroid problems, learning which genetic variants you carry may be a way to shed some light on what is going on with your thyroid. Knowing where your genetic susceptibilities are can lead to figuring out (with your doctor) the best way to solve the problem. YOU are your own best advocate. I encourage you to learn everything you can about your thyroid health.  (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago
Circadian Rhythm

Insomnia: A combo of genetics and environment?

Everyone at some point knows the pain of a sleepless night. For some, though, this is an all too frequent occurrence. A few quick facts:

  • 10% of adults (and 22% of the elderly) have insomnia disorder[ref]
  • Heritability estimates from twin studies show that insomnia is around 50% genetic; genes lending susceptibility along with environmental factors. [ref] Another study broke this down further, finding that most genetic influence is on the type of insomnia where people have a hard time staying asleep, rather than difficulty falling asleep. [ref]
  • 80-90% of people with major depression experience insomnia of some sort, with about half of them experiencing severe insomnia. [ref]
  • Insomnia can be either a problem with initially falling asleep or with waking up in the early morning hours and not being able to fall back to sleep.
Is there an "Insomnia Gene"? well, no... (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago
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
Disease Prevention

Decrease Your Risk of Diabetes – Using Genetics

What comes to mind as far as the risk of type 2 diabetes? Usually first up is the mental picture of someone eating donuts and slurping down soft drinks.  While diet definitely contributes to diabetes risk, not everyone who eats donuts and slurps soft drinks will get diabetes. Alternatively, not everyone with type 2 diabetes got it through poor dietary choices. Obviously, the must be more to diabetes than just poor dietary choices. (Don't get me wrong - you should still make good dietary choices...) Genetics plays a role in diabetes, as anyone who has several diabetics in their family well knows.  This is a big, broad topic, though, since there isn't just one gene that causes diabetes or even one way that people can have problems with regulating their blood sugar. (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago
Alzheimer's

Autophagy Genes

Autophagy is a general term for cellular pathways that move something from the cytoplasm of the cell into the lysosome for degradation. The term comes from the Greek 'auto' (self) and '-phagy' (to eat).  So when you see articles touting 'autophagy diets' as the latest and greatest for longevity or beautiful skin, realize that the term is just a general one that applies to a cellular process that goes on all the time in our cells. Let me see if I can explain a bit of the biology behind this, and then I’ll go into how your genes play a role in autophagy. Back to high school science class:  Inside almost every cell in the body is an organelle called a lysosome. It is made up of a membrane that surrounds a bunch of different enzymes for breaking down proteins.  This is a way our cells can clean up after themselves, and also how they get rid of foreign invaders like bacteria. (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago


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