obesity, dna, and epigenetics

OBESITY, DNA, AND EPIGENETICS
(IS DNA REGULATION TIED TO OBESITY OR IS OBESITY TIED TO DNA REGULATION?)

Genetic Obesity

Maialisa – Mary Pahlke – Woodstock/United States – Pixabay

“Scientists now think epigenetics can play a role in the development of some cancers. For instance, an epigenetic change that silences a tumor suppressor gene — such as a gene that keeps the growth of the cell in check — could lead to uncontrolled cellular growth.”  Livescience (June 2013) — an online science journal
Who could forget Flip Wilson telling America that, “The devil made me do it“?   Most people today have abandoned the idea that the devil could make them do anything, and traded it in for the idea that, “My genes (DNA) made me do it“.  And why not?  Everyone loves to have a ready-made excuses for any and every situation.  And this one is not only convenient, it is backed by hard “science” — you know; part of that whole EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE thing.  Or is it? 

It seems that recent research is revealing that gene expression might be more affected by obesity (or other factors) than the other way around.  In other words, obesity is adversely affecting your genetics, not simply your genes making you fat.  What does the most recent research say about the connection between your genes and things like OBESITY, AUTOIMMUNITY, CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES, TYPE II DIABETES, CANCER, and numerous others?  Only that genetics are increasingly playing second fiddle to something called ‘epigeneitics‘.  What are epigenetics?  Glad you asked.

According to the online scientific journal, Livescience, “Epigenetics literally means above genetics (or higher than genetics).   It refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes on or off.” These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells read genes.”  One of the most commonly used examples of Epigenetics has to do with something called methylation.  Methylation has to do with changing the structure of DNA by adding a methyl group (METHYL DONORS) to a section of DNA that acts to prevent specific genes from being expressed, which in turn, changes the function.  In other words, just because the genetic code for trait XYZ is contained within one’s DNA, the specific characteristic(s) of XYZ will not manifest unless that gene is “turned on” (expressed). 

A recent study done at the University of Minnesota explored the association between BMI and DNA Methylation — describing it as “significant“.  The goal of the study was to identify the genes that are affected (altered) by things like obesity.  Stop and ponder the significance of this for a moment.  Your genes are more affected by your weight than your weight is by your genes.  For another example of EPIGENETICS IN ACTION, just click on the link.  And if you want to see an extremely cool post on genetics -vs- epigenetics, click THIS LINK.

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