An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure!

Posts tagged ‘DNA’

Zinc Deficiencies Are A Global Concern

 

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Although other vitamins and nutrients get more attention in the media, experts now believe as many as two billion people around the world have diets deficient in Zinc. Studies at Oregon State University and elsewhere are raising concerns about the health implications this means for infectious disease, immune function, DNA damage and cancer.

One new study has found DNA damage in humans is caused by only minor zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency is quite common in the developing world. Even in the United States, about 12 percent of the population is probably at risk for Zinc deficiency, and perhaps as many as 40 percent of the elderly, due to inadequate dietary intake and less absorption of this essential nutrient, experts say. Many or most people have never been tested for Zinc status.

“Zinc deficiencies have been somewhat under the radar because we just don’t know that much about mechanisms that control its absorption, role, or even how to test for it in people with any accuracy,” explained an associate professor with the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU, and international expert on the role of dietary zinc.

Studies have shown that Zinc is essential to protecting against oxidative stress and helping DNA repair, meaning that in the face of Zinc deficiency, the body’s ability to repair genetic damage may be decreasing even as the amount of damage is increasing.

Two studies recently published, in the Journal of Nutrition and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found significant levels of DNA damage both with laboratory animals and in apparently healthy men who have low Zinc intake. Zinc depletion caused strands of their DNA to break, and increasing the intake of Zinc reversed the damage back to normal levels.

“In one clinical study with men, we were able to see increases in DNA damage from zinc deficiency even before existing tests, like decreased plasma zinc levels, could spot the zinc deficiency. An inadequate level of Zinc intake clearly has consequences for cellular health.”

Many Zinc studies have focused on prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men, because the prostate gland has one of the highest concentrations of Zinc in the body, for reasons that are not clearly known.

When prostate glands become cancerous, their level of Zinc drops precipitously, and some studies have suggested that increasing Zinc in the prostate may at least help prevent prostate cancer and could potentially be a therapeutic strategy. There are concerns about the relationship of Zinc intake to esophageal, breast, and head and neck cancers. And the reduced Zinc status that occurs with ageing may also contribute to a higher incidence of infection and autoimmune diseases, researchers said in one study in the Journal of Nutrition.

Zinc is naturally found associated with proteins in such meats as beef and poultry, and in even higher levels in shellfish such as oysters. It’s available in plants but poorly absorbed from them, raising additional concerns for vegetarians. And inadequate intake is so prevalent in the elderly, the researcher said, that they should usually consider taking a Zinc supplement and multivitamin to ensure adequate levels.

Zinc is an essential micronutrient for numerous cellular processes. “The consequences of Zinc deficiency in adults have not yet been sufficiently studied despite the recognition of symptoms of Zinc deficiency for decades,” researchers wrote in one recent report. “A considerable body of evidence suggests that Zinc deficiency may increase the risk of some chronic diseases, including cancer. This link may be attributed to the role of Zinc in antioxidant defence and DNA damage repair.”

This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

New Study: Stress Increases Risk of Mental, Physical Illness

A New Study From A Leading University
In Germany Demonstrates How Stress Increases Risk of Mental and Physical Illness By Altering Genes

According to a new study conducted by researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, psychological stress may increase the risk of mental and physical illness by altering the control of genes.

The research demonstrates that stress actually alters the methylation of DNA as a result of the activity of certain genes. The team investigated specific genes already known to be involved with controlling stress.

Previous studies on the effects of stress have shown that early psychological trauma and highly stressful events are linked to long-term methylation changes to DNA.  With this new study, the team research scientists sought to understand if the DNA alteration also occurs after acute psychological stress, such as the type of stress a person normally experiences during a job interview.

For the study, they examined two specific genes: one for the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) and one for the nerve growth factor brain-derived
neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

To differentiate, OXTR acts as a “docking site” for oxytocin, the chemical messenger known as the “love” or “trust” hormone. By contrast, BDNF functions in the development of brain cells.

The researchers recruited 76 participants (ages 60 – 69 ) to experience two kinds of stressful events. The first was to to take part in a mock job interview, and the other was to solve math problems while being watched.
Both of these tests are commonly used to
produce stress under controlled analytical laboratory environment.

The subjects gave blood samples before the tests, and twice afterwards: one ten minutes after the test (post-test) and another 1 and 1/2 hours after (follow-up). The researchers could measure the amount of DNA methylation in the two genes
from these samples.

The results showed that the BDNF (brain development) gene was not affected by the stress tests. Interestingly however, the OXTR gene showed measurable methylation changes.
There was an increase in methylation in a section of this gene in the post-test measure. This result suggests the cells formed fewer receptors.

Then in the follow-up blood sample, 1.5  hours after the test, methylation in the OXTR gene fell below the pre-test level, which suggests that the cells produced too many receptors.

“The results suggest a dynamic regulation of DNA methylation in OXTR , which may in part reflect changes in blood cell composition, but not BDNF after acute psychosocial stress,” reported the study’s authors.
“Epigenetic changes may well be an important link between stress and chronic diseases,” commented Dr. Gunther Meinlschmidt, professor and head of the Research Department of Psychobiology, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at the LWL University Hospital in Universität Bochum  University.
“We hope to identify more complex epigenetic stress patterns in future and thus to be able to determine the associated risk of disease. This could provide information on new approaches to treatment and prevention,” he added.

Story Source:
Ruhr-Universität Bochum  University. Bochum Germany.
Journal Reference: The research is published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
This article is for informational and educational

purposes only;  It is not intended to provide
medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

How Eating Broccoli Helps Prevent Cancer

broccoli

broccoli (Photo credit: wanko)

How Eating Broccoli Helps Prevent Cancer

Eat Your Broccoli, Cauliflower
and Kale To Help Prevent Cancer.
Here’s Why…

Researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have discovered a key factor for why the “sulforaphane“compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables is
so good for you. It provides two ways to
prevent cancer through the complex
mechanism called epigenetics.

Epigenetics is an increasing focus of research around the world; It refers not only to our genetic code, but also to the way that diet, toxins and other elements can change which genes get activated.

This can play a significant role in everything
from cancer to heart disease and other major
health issues.

Sulforaphane is one of the most important compounds that provide the health benefits in cruciferous vegetables; Scientists also knew that
a mechanism involved was histone deacetylases
also known as HDACs. This family of enzymes
can interfere with the normal function of genes
that suppress tumors. HDAC inhibitors, such as sulforaphane, has the ability to help restore proper balance and prevent the development of cancer.

It’s one of the most promising areas of cancer research today. The new Oregon State University studies have found a second epigenetic mechanism called DNA methylation, which plays a similar role.

Researchers explained this one-two punch is important to cell function and the control of cell division. When disrupted, it is a sign of cancer.

“Cancer is very complex and it’s usually not just one thing that has gone wrong,” the researchers said. “It’s increasingly clear that sulforaphane is a real multi-tasker. The more we find out about it,
the more benefits it appears to have.”

DNA methylation, they said, is a normal process
of turning off genes, and it helps control what
DNA material gets read as part of genetic communication within cells. In cancer that process gets mixed up. And of considerable interest to researchers is that these same disrupted processes appear to play a role in other
neuro-degenerative diseases, as well as cardiovascular disease, immune function
and the aging process.

The research was published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics; It primarily studied the effect on prostate cancer cells, but the same processes
are probably relevant to many other cancers
including colon and breast cancer.

“With these processes, the key is balance” the researchers said. “DNA methylation is a natural process, and when properly controlled is helpful.
But when the balance gets mixed up it can cause havoc, and that’s where the critical nutrients are involved. They help restore the balance.”

Sulforaphane is particularly abundant in broccoli and in other cruciferous vegetables such as kale and cauliflower . Laboratory and clinical studies have shown that higher intake of cruciferous vegetables can aid in cancer prevention.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the OSU Environmental Health Sciences Center.

 

Story Source: Oregon State University.

Journal Reference: Promoter de-methylation of cyclin D2 by sulforaphane in prostate cancer cells. Clinical Epigenetics, 2011

 

This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

Lycopene’s Heart Health Benefits

Lycopene, the red pigment that colors tomatoes.

Image via Wikipedia

Superfood Antioxidants, Carotenoids Are Beneficial For Cardiovascular Health,

According To Research. . .

Lycopene, the compound that gives tomatoes their rich-red color, may benefit heart health by boosting the body’s natural antioxidant defenses and protecting against DNA damage, says a new study from South Korea.

A daily supplement of 15 milligrams for eight weeks was associated with increased activity of SOD (super oxide dismutase), a powerful antioxidant enzyme, as well as reductions in measures of DNA damage in white blood cells, according to results published in the journal Atherosclerosis.

Furthermore, the apparent benefits extended to a reduction in systolic blood pressure and a decrease in levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP). CRP is a marker of inflammation and is reported to be an independent predictor of cardiovascular-related events.

“These results add to the growing literature on potential protective effects of the antioxidant lycopene in atherosclerosis through an anti-inflammatory effect and preserving endothelial function,” wrote the researchers  from Yonsei University in South Korea.

 

Growing Science for Lycopene

Lycopene is an antioxidant that is present in red and pink-colored fruits and vegetables. It has been shown  to have heart, blood pressure, prostate, osteoporosis, skin and other benefits.

Study Details

The South Korean researchers recruited 126 health  men with an average age of 34 and an average BMI of  24 kg/m2, and randomly assigned them to receive a daily  6 or 15 milligram supplement of lycopene, or placebo for eight weeks.

At the end of the study the researchers reported that SOD activity increased by 2.37 units per milliliter in the high-dose group, compared with an increase of 1.73 units per milliliter in 6 mg group and a decrease in activity in the placebo group.

 

In addition, DNA damage was reduced in the high dose group, compared with the other groups. Endothelial  function, the function of the cells lining blood vessels,  was also improved significantly following the high dose group.

“Interestingly, the beneficial effects of lycopene supplementation on endothelial function were remarkable  in subjects with relatively impaired endothelial cell function  at initial level,” report the researchers.

CRP levels decreased by 57 percent in the high dose  group, while no significant reductions were recorded in the other two groups, said the researchers.

“Subjects supplemented with 15-mg lycopene daily for 8-week also showed reduction in other cardiovascular  risk factors, for example, an increase in LDL particle size,” report the researchers. “Since the lycopene capsule used  in this study also contains beta-carotene (greater than  0.5 mg), the subjects in the 15-mg lycopene/day group  had a 65 percent increase in lycopene concentration and a 20 percent increase in beta-carotene, which is a known effective antioxidant that inactivates free radicals, inversely correlates with CRP, and slows the progression of atherosclerosis.

“Therefore, a synergistic effect of Lycopene and  Beta-Carotene in the 15-mg Lycopene/day group likely increased the beneficial effects on these atherosclerosis  risk factors,” they added.

 

Source: Atherosclerosis (Published online)

“Effects of lycopene supplementation on oxidative stress

and markers of endothelial function in healthy men”

 

Editor’s Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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