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The Future Of Disease Prevention May Not Depend On Your Genes But Upon Ways To Turn Them On And Off

May 20, 2010 | 46,556 views
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epigenetics, DNAThe new field of epigenetics has shown that the choice of which of your genes are "expressed," or activated, is strongly affected by environmental influences.

This means that expression of your genes can change, and they are influenced by external factors.

One implication of this is that many health problems -- ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease to neurological disorders -- can be caused at least in part by altered "histone modifications," which affect DNA.

According to Eurekalert:

“The good news ... 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.”

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.

Donate Today!


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The widely accepted dogma that your genes control your health destiny is quickly being uprooted by the emerging field of epigenetics. Epigenetics is probably the most important biological discovery since DNA!

How does it work?

You’ve probably heard the debate of “nature vs. nurture” … meaning, is it the genetic code you received at conception or the environment in which you were raised that most influences your future health? The answer is both … but your actions, lifestyle and even your thoughts may have the most sway … and nothing is set in stone. Allow me to explain …

You’re in Control of Your Health Destiny

In his book, The Biology of Belief, Dr. Lipton explains the foundation of epigenetics, and how the true secret to life does not lie within your DNA, but rather within the mechanisms of the cell membrane. In this way -- which is contrary to conventional medical science -- it is actually the cell’s membrane -- operating in response to environmental signals picked up by the membrane’s receptors -- that control the “reading” of the genes inside.

For instance, researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University recently explained at Experimental Biology 2010 how altered "histone modifications” can impact the expression of many degenerative diseases, ranging from cancer and heart disease to biopolar disorder and even aging itself.

Rod Dashwood, a professor of environmental and molecular toxicology and head of LPI's Cancer Chemoprotection Program, told EurekAlert:

"We believe that many diseases that 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.

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."

You have tumor suppressor genes in your body right now, and these genes are capable of stopping cancer cells in their tracks. These genes are present in ALL of your cells, but so are proteins called histones.

As Dr. Jean-Pierre Issa at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center explains, histones can essentially “hug” DNA so tightly that it becomes “hidden from view for the cell.” If a tumor suppressor gene is hidden, it cannot be utilized, and in this way too much HDAC will “turn off” these cancer suppressors.

Now here’s where epigenetics comes in … there are many HDAC inhibitors out there that will essentially block the HDAC, allowing your tumor suppressor genes to activate and fight cancer. These HDAC inhibitors exist, at least in part, in common foods like broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, garlic and onions.

By adding these foods to your diet, you are supporting your body’s ability to fight tumors.

And this is only one example of many.

You are in control of your genes … and are changing them often -- daily and perhaps even hourly -- based on the foods you eat, the air you breathe, and the thoughts you think. It’s your environment and lifestyle that dictates your tendency to express disease, and this new realization is set to make major waves in the future of disease prevention -- including one day educating people on how to fight disease at the epigenetic level.

You Can Mold Your Genes to Your Advantage

No matter what hand you were dealt at birth, you can take steps to “activate” the disease-busting, health-boosting genes and suppress those that will cause you harm. This is evidenced perhaps most clearly by identical twins, who start out with the exact same genetic code … but end up very different.

Epigenetic "malleability" helps to explain why identical twins become distinct as they age.

For instance, why does one identical twin develop cancer and the other remain healthy when they have identical DNA? Why does one twin become obese and another remain lean?

As you age, your genome does not change but your epigenome changes dramatically, especially during critical periods of life, such as adolescence. It is influenced by physical and emotional stresses -- how you respond to everything that happens in your environment, from climate change to childhood abuse.

The secret is in the methyl groups that overlie the DNA molecule, which is the realm of the epigenome.

When a gene is turned off epigenetically, the DNA has usually been "methylated." When methyl groups adhere to a segment of DNA, they inhibit the gene’s response.

Methylation-gone-wrong is now suspected in autism, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

You do not manifest disease merely by a defective gene, but by your epigenome. In other words, whether or not you develop disease is determined by how your genome is being directed to express itself. There are also "master genes" that can switch on and off clusters of other genes.

Scientists have discovered it is easier to make epigenetic changes than to fix damaged genes. Your epigenome is easier to mess up -- but it’s also easier to fix.

That’s good news -- it means you aren’t doomed by bad genes!

Epigenetic therapy, which is essentially the curing of disease by epigenetic manipulation, involves changing the instructions to your cells -- reactivating desirable genes and deactivating undesirable ones. This emerging field, now in its infancy, may represent the future of medicine.

A Healthy Lifestyle Supports Healthy Genetic Expression

One way to look at epigenetics is this: all of your cells contain ALL of your genes. The reason why your skin cells behave differently than, say, your liver cells, is because the genes that are not needed by a particular cell are turned off by epigenetics.

In fact, each tissue only uses about 10 percent to 20 percent of its gene complement, according to Dr. Issa. When a disease, such as cancer occurs, the solution, according to epigenetic therapy, is not to kill the cell as conventional cancer treatments do … it’s to “remind” the cell or change its instructions so that it can go back to being a normal, healthy cell instead of a cancer (or other disease) cell.

You can begin to do this on your own, long before you manifest a disease, by encouraging your genes to express positive, disease-fighting behaviors in the first place by leading a healthy lifestyle.

To get started, please read through my comprehensive nutrition plan, which will give you tips and tools for eating healthy, dealing with stress and living a lifestyle that will support your epigenetic health.

Please Remember Your Emotions Also Play a Major Role

You can also turn your genes on and off with your emotions. Most people have emotional traumas that can adversely affect their health. Using techniques like energy psychology, you can go in and correct the trauma and actually regulate the expression of your genes. My favorite technique for this is Meridian Tapping Technique/Emotional Freedom Technique (MTT/EFT).

[+] Sources and References

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