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Rats on Junk Food Pass Cancer Down the Generations

junk foodWhen pregnant rats were fed a fatty diet, both their daughters and granddaughters proved to be at greater risk of breast cancer. In fact, even if the daughters of the first generation of rats ate healthily, their offspring -- the third generation -- were still at greater risk of disease.

According to the New Scientist:

“... a fatty diet may cause "epigenetic" DNA modifications that can be passed on to future generations.”

If this is also true for humans, it means that genetics could be only one of several reasons why a family history of breast cancer increases your risk for the disease.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Most people are aware that certain genes are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, however having a family history of breast cancer is not the only risk factor women have to contend with, and it’s likely not even the most important one.

In fact, according to statistics only about 20-30 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer actually have a family history of the disease.

The research presented at the 101st 2010 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington DC offers a very interesting glimpse into what may be going on here.

Could it be that the increasing health problems and diseases such as cancer we’re seeing today is the result of our grandparents’ adopting a diet of processed foods?

How We’re Breeding a Diseased Future Generation

It’s easy to forget that the processed, pre-packaged foods and fast food restaurants of today are actually a radical change in terms of the history of food production. The frozen food business didn’t begin until the mid 1920’s when the General Seafoods Company set up shop and began selling crudely frozen fish fillets, and fast food restaurants didn’t get a foot hold until after World War II.

So it could be that we’re now looking right at these generational effects, caused by our grandparents’ dietary changes.

If that’s the case, then we have even more incentive to make drastic changes, and soon, because the disease trends we’re now seeing are only going to get worse as much of the processed foods consumed today are not even food-based!

Who knows what kind of genetic mutations and malfunctions we’re creating for our future generations when a MAJORITY of our diet consists of highly processed and artificial foods.

It’s a frightening prospect, to say the least, when you consider that the White Castle’s and Big Mac’s of yesteryear were FAR healthier than the denatured, trans fat- and sugar-filled fare that’s being served today.

The Epigenetics of Diet

Recent research shows that what you eat, especially while pregnant, can affect not only your children but also your grandchildren.

In fact, these DNA changes can “jump” or skip a generation, so that the effect does not become apparent until two generations later, even if parents did not inherit the genetic change.

An article titled “A sideways glance. Do you remember your grandmother’s food? How epigenetic changes transmit consequences of nutritional exposure from one generation to the next, published in the journal Genes & Nutrition, highlights the dilemma we’re increasingly faced with:

“Epigenetics is unravelling a continuous cross talk between our genetic profile and the environment.

Indeed, genome is much more “flexible” than previously thought and such flexibility underscores the relevance of “good eating” for maintenance of good health.

Future nutritionists will have to face the challenge of elucidating the mechanism of nutrition-induced epigenetic changes during pre and post-natal life, to optimize nutritional interventions in a “personalized” perspective.”

Likewise, a more recent article in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, states:

“Traditionally, we understand that individual phenotypes result primarily from inherited genetic variants together with environmental exposures. However, many studies showed that a remarkable variety of factors including environmental agents, parental behaviors, maternal physiology, xenobiotics, nutritional supplements and others lead to epigenetic changes that can be transmitted to subsequent generations without continued exposure.

Recent discoveries show transgenerational epistasis and transgenerational genetic effects where genetic factors in one generation affect phenotypes in subsequent generation without inheritance of the genetic variant in the parents.

Together these discoveries implicate a key signaling pathway, chromatin remodeling, methylation, RNA editing and microRNA biology. This exceptional mode of inheritance complicates the search for disease genes and represents perhaps an adaptation to transmit useful gene expression profiles from one generation to the next.” [Emphasis mine.]

Folks, not only does this complicate the search for disease genes, but it complicates everything that has anything to do with food- and drug safety. It’s simply not enough to demonstrate that something is safe to ingest for a few weeks when we know the long-term ramifications of drugs and foods can show up two generations later.

This alone should be sufficient cause to tread with extreme caution when introducing genetically modified foods and vaccines, that exposes people to new, unknown agents en masse.

Unfortunately, such caution is not the norm these days, which leaves you with only one alternative, and that is to educate yourself and take control of your own health.

The research into the epigenetic effects of diet also highlights the need to return to Real Food if we’re really serious about finding long-term solutions to our most pressing health disasters such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

Diet and Cancer Risk

Many people do not realize the connection between obesity and other diseases such as heart disease or cancer.

For example, did you know that obese women are up to 60 percent more likely to develop some form of cancer than normal-weight women?  Additionally obese women are far more likely to have babies with genetic defects.

One of the links between obesity and breast cancer in particular is estrogen.

Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, and this hormone is produced in your fat tissue. Hence, the more body fat you have, the more estrogen you’re likely to produce, which could contribute to the formation of breast cancer.

Obesity, of course, is directly attributable to your diet, and fast food, high in trans fats and sugar, is a major contributor to obesity.

I often feel like I’m speaking in circles, and that’s because everything IS one gigantic interconnected circle. There aren’t many mysteries when it comes to health and disease, and once you start seeing how everything is interconnected, you’ll also see that nearly every disease can be traced back to the foods you choose to eat.

If you want to do something about your state of health, you simply MUST become conscious about your selections.

Are you eating real, unadulterated foods, or are you eating chemical concoctions, pressed and mashed and artificially flavored to give the appearance of being food?

Are you eating foods that are loaded with antibiotics and hormones?

Are you eating foods that contain ingredients that are genetically modified to pull double-duty as pesticides?

These are important questions that will only become more important as time goes on and public health continues to decline.

Your Diet Also Influences Genetic Expression NOW

But there’s also some good news here.

Researchers are also beginning to get a clearer understanding of how gene expression is modified by what you eat.

This is actually great news, because it means that even though you may be genetically predisposed to a health problem, you’re not necessarily destined to express those genes – unless your current diet and lifestyle turns them on.

For example, a recent article by Georgetown University Medical Center discusses the effects of alcohol consumption on the expression of certain breast cancer genes, stating that:

“Normal variations in genes may inhibit or enhance the effects of alcohol consumption. For example, work by Shields, Marian and colleagues has shown that variations in the genes ADH1B and ADH1C – both of which code for enzymes critical in alcohol metabolism – may increase a postmenopausal woman’s risk for breast cancer up to two-fold if she consumes alcohol.

This is in part because, during its metabolism, alcohol breaks down into a toxic molecule that causes DNA damage. Variations in the ADH1 genes can change this process, increasing the severity of long-term damage to DNA. In this way, alcohol has the potential to disrupt many cellular pathways…”

The KEY to remember here is that it is not your genes that dictate your health but rather the expression of your genes. And you have the ability to turn genes on and off through your lifestyle and emotional state. So you still can’t blame it all on your ancestors.

One clear example is vitamin D, which literally regulates the expression of one out of every 10 of your genes.

Return to Whole Organic Foods is Not a Luxury – It’s a Necessity

However, suffice it to say that if our food supply continues to deteriorate, our children and grandchildren may not have a choice between fake food and real food, which would truly doom them to a life of poor health.

I believe the stakes are incredibly high when it comes to our food supply, which is why I’m so passionate about advocating a return to unprocessed, locally grown organic food and the banning of GMO’s.

Nothing less than the very future of humanity is at stake if the insanity of denatured, processed foods continues unabated.

In the United States, 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is for processed food, and fast food is available just about everywhere, including in hospitals and schools. This type of diet:

  • Exponentially increases your risk of obesity and diabetes
  • Is loaded with dangerous additives like trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup and MSG
  • Contains genetically modified ingredients
  • Lacks the nutrients your body needs to thrive, let alone maintain itself

It’s everything a body doesn’t need.

It’s time to realize that we’ve shifted too far from what we were created to eat, and there are no magic pills that can save us from the ramifications of that. We must also realize that we will not be able to move forward unless we GO BACK – back to a diet of locally grown, fresh, whole, natural foods.

+ Sources and References