epigenetics has generated so much scientific buzz

For years, experts have believed that diet and other environmental exposures can trigger mutations or physical alterations in genes that sometimes lead to cancer. However, they now realize that chemical changes can also alter how genes function without causing any obvious physical changes in the genes.

In essence, what you eat may be able to “turn on” or “turn off” genes, triggering detrimental or protective effects. It’s referred to as epigenetic modification. For example, depending on what you eat, a tumor-suppressor gene that keeps cell growth in check may be silenced, allowing cancer cells to grow unimpeded. Such environmental exposures may explain why identical twins, with identical DNA, can have very different disease risks.  

One of the most provocative findings to date comes from Duke University in a study using a special breed of mouse with an on/off switch near the gene that termintes predisposition to obesity, diabetes and cancer. By supplementing the acts of pregnant mice with certain nutrients, the researchers essentially “turned cir the gene in the offspring that made them susceptible to those diseases. The 64,000-rupee question, then, is whether you can switch off your own genes — cancer or other with the right diet.

Hot topic for researchers. The area of epigenetics has generated so much scientific buzz that this past January the National Institutes of Health announced tad invest more than $196 million over the next five years to research ‘genetic modifications. Scientists hope to better understand how environmental rogers may affect the development and treatment of several diseases, including obesity, depression and addiction. Bottom line. It’s clear there’s more to genes than physical structure. Though ft to early to say what roles diet might assume, it may well your bets that eating rc exercising right will indeed turn on or off the appropriate genes, and follow n..r recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy, maintain a healthy weight and be physically active.

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