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
Detox

CYP3A4 and CYP3A5: Genes that Impact Drug Metabolism

Our bodies break down (metabolize) drugs and other toxins through a group of enzymes known as the CYP450 family. Different CYP enzymes break down different substances, and we all carry genetic variants that can impact whether we metabolize a drug quickly or slowly. The CYP3A genes (which code for enzymes of the same name) is a subfamily of CYP 450 and is involved in the metabolism of about half the drugs on the market today as well as other xenobiotics and steroids.  There are several major genetic polymorphisms in the CYP3A family that can play a role in how a person reacts to a medication. Several fruits - grapefruit, noni, pomegranate - are potent inhibitors of CYP3A4.  Eating or drinking these can cause adverse effects on drug metabolism, either increasing the efficiency of the drug or decreasing the effect. (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
Circadian Rhythm

How light at night could double your risk of cancer.

The World Health Organization listed ‘light at night’ as a possible carcinogen in 2007. That is an eye-opening statement for something that affects almost all of us. From streetlights to the lamp in the living room, from accent garden lighting to the glow of TV's and cell phone... artificial light at night is truly ubiquitous. An often stated fact is that 80% of people in North America cannot see the milky way at night.  What was more surprising to me was that the Milky Way was supposed to be visible!  Who knew?  Oh, wait – people with no light pollution know… So how can light possibly be a carcinogen? Will turning on the TV or a light in the living room after dinner suddenly cause cancer?  Let me start with two recent, contradictory studies, and then I'll get into the science of why I think that artificial light at night is a fundamental health problem.  (more…)

By Debbie Moon, ago


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