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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Geneticist Cures His Own Type 2 Diabetes by Changing his Lifestyle not his Genes

Posted by Colin Rose on April 15, 2012

This story in Science Now, a vehicle published by the AAAS for vulgarization of  basic science, is a classic example of the hype surrounding gene sequencing and gene expression. To judge from this headline any reader would assume that the cure for Type 2 diabetes was simply to measure genes and gene expression. However when one reads the actual publication one discovers that the geneticist cured his diabetes by changing his lifestyle and didn’t even look at his “omics” while doing so. It`s a shame he didn`t report his omics during the lifestyle change because there would undoubtedly have been significant changes in gene expression only by changing the environment with no drugs. Such a demonstration might encourage other people to make those lifestyle changes before taking drugs knowing that there are signficant effects on the expression of genes. In a personal communication Dr. Snyder said that he has the data and will publish it later.

Before the days of genomics when I was reviewing grant applications, any application that proposed to blindly measure thousands of variables hoping to find something  related to a disease or a macroscopic process was immediately rejected as a “fishing expedition”. But genomics is now big business. $Billions are being spent on it in the futile hope that a genetic silver bullet will be found for those diseases of self-destructive lifestyles that account for most of our morbidity and premature mortality. As Dr. Snyder has elegantly demonstrated, we need to first change lifestyles and then maybe worry about the genetics of whatever rare diseases remain.

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Classic hype by the promoters of “omics”, short for genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. The underlying myth is that by measuring enough genes and their products something will be found that can be targeted with a genetic silver bullet and save us from our self-destructive lifestyles.

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Dr. Snyder measured various gene products from day 0 to day 420 when he inexplicably stopped. He developed type 2 diabetes during a respiratory virus infection probably due to increased insulin resistance. He then realized he had to change his lifestyle and cut his calorie intake and exercised. By day 550 his blood glucose was back to normal. The cure of his diabetes had nothing to do with measuring his gene expression and everything to do with changing his environment.

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Dr. Snyder developed two viral infections while monitoring his “omics” but inexplicably stopped measuring them 20 days after he developed type 2 diabetes. The heavy black bar indicates when he changed his lifestyle by eating less calories and exercising more during which time he only measured his blood glucose.

The Future is your DNA?

“The future is your DNA.” Who was the PR type at McGill who came up with that slogan? As we see above, Dr. Snyder, geneticist extraordinaire, has clearly shown that his future is his lifestyle. Everyone is born with a fixed genome. There are very rare diseases that are purely genetic in cause but the diseases that maim and kill most of the world’s population are primarily environmental. Our genomes are optimized to permit reproductive success in an environment of scarcity and borderline starvation and are not and never will be optimized to an environment of unlimited addictive  highly processed food, alcohol and other drugs. Any amount of “omics” will not change that basic fact. In addition, the genomics promoters gloss over the profound problem in trying to make a connection between a linear code and the three-dimensional organism produced from the code. The phenotype is the result of unfathomably complex, self-referrential signalling and, so except for some relatively rare diseases that can be linked to genetic errors, there is no direct connection of the genome to predilection to common diseases. That is why huge amounts of data must be collected and huge amounts of money spent to glean even a borderline connection. This is why a recent study published in Science by the AAAS, the same organization that publishes ScienceNow, mentioned above, concluded that “for 23 of the 24 diseases, the majority of individuals will receive negative test results, … [so] these negative test results will, in general, not be very informative, as the risk of developing 19 of the 24 diseases in those who test negative will still be, at minimum, 50 – 80% of that in the general population”. In other words common diseases are caused by environmental factors regardless of the genome. Your future is your lifestyle choices.

In the more than ten years since the human genome was sequenced there is zero evidence that anyone has lived any longer because of that effort, as intellectually satisfying as it was. In Western societies, what has significantly prolonged life in the last decade is reduction in cigarette smoking. But other legal addictions to prescription drugs, junk food and alcohol threaten to wipe out these gains. Dr. Levin pleads for gene sequencing to solve the mysteries of chronic diseases like atherosclerosis that causes heart attacks and most stokes. “Via genomics medicine will become a more personalized, predictive and preventative science.” Such talk makes for good politics and attracts huge expenditures from governments, such as the likes of Génome Québec. Governments hate having to tell the electorate to change those self-destructive lifestyles that are the proven cause of atherosclerosis and most cancers but love to be seen as pursuing superficially attractive but futile high-tech cures that will obviate the need to control those legal addictions to which the electorate is very attached.

Posted in atherosclerosis, diabetes, Type 2, diet, environment, exercise, food, genomics, junk food | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Junk food addiction causes obesity

Posted by Colin Rose on March 28, 2010

http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=2737117.

BK Combo with Poutine

Bacon and cheesecake can alter the brain in ways similar to heroin and cocaine, according to scientists who say they have found the most compelling proof yet that high-fat foods rewire the brain and drive the development of compulsive eating.

When rats raised on regular chow were suddenly given unrestricted access to a high-fat diet, they lost complete control over their eating. Not even mild foot shocks kept them from compulsively feasting on chocolate bars, cream-stuffed cakes, sausage, frosting and other highly palatable human foods. Within 40 days, their body weight had increased 25%.

The rats not only got fat, they also showed addiction-like changes in brain reward circuits — the same changes that have been reported in humans addicted to drugs.

Specifically, the obese rats showed lower levels of a receptor in the brain called the dopamine D2 receptor. The D2 receptor responds to dopamine, the chemical associated with feelings of reward. The brain releases bursts of dopamine when we eat food that tastes good.

The more junk food the rats ate, the more they overloaded the brain’s reward circuitries until they essentially crashed. As the pleasure centres in the brain became more and more blase, and less responsive, the rats quickly turned into compulsive overeaters. They were motivated to keep eating to get their fix.

“They’re in a state of reward deficit, so that they’re now even more motivated to obtain rewarding food, perpetuating this vicious cycle even further,” said study co-author Paul Kenny, an associate professor at Scripps Research Institute in Florida.

The lowered D2 receptor levels — a side effect of overeating high-fat food — also seemed to drive the animals to develop “habitual” feeding behaviours that made them “less able to shift their dietary preferences,” Dr. Kenny says.

When the researchers took the high-fat foods away, leaving only the healthy, but boring chow — what the scientists dubbed the “salad bar option” — the rodents essentially voluntarily starved themselves.

“They liked the junk food so much they would rather starve than shift onto the regular chow,” Dr. Kenny said. Even after two weeks of having no junk food, “they still hadn’t returned to the level of intake that you see in the control animals for the standard chow. That goes to show just how powerful this food was.”

When they artificially knocked down the dopamine receptor using a special virus, nothing happened when rats were given regular chow. They didn’t become compulsive in any way, Dr. Kenny said. “Their brain reward systems looked fine.

“But the second you gave it palatable food, it showed very rapidly these addiction-like changes.”

Some people may be born with a predisposition to have lower D2 levels.

“That may be why they’re more likely to gain weight. They’re already halfway down that road, if you will,” Dr. Kenny said.

The findings, published on Sunday in an advance online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience, could have profound implications for the millions of Canadians struggling to control their eating.

“What this is telling you is that, if you persist in eating food that you know is bad for you, there is a chance that you will develop a habit, and you will keep on going back to that food unless you make a really strong, conscious effort to stop it,” Dr. Kenny said.

“It’s incumbent upon people to make sure that they’re more respectful and aware of what they’re eating. Just be aware that there are dangers and risks associated. Enjoy (high-fat) food but make sure it’s occasionally and very-well controlled. Don’t overindulge repeatedly, because there could be repercussions.”

Dr. Valerie Taylor, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioural neuroscience at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the study is a validation “that some people are simply more vulnerable to the whole concept of being addicted to food.”

“The fact that we’re now in this high-temptation environment further serves to exacerbate that.”

Dr. Taylor said the study provides “very strong evidence supporting what a lot of us who work in the field have seen clinically — that, for some people, it’s more than just simply willpower. There’s something else going on.”

According to the latest estimates from Statistics Canada, 37% of the adult population age 20 to 69 — 7.9 million people — are overweight. Another 24% — 5.3 million — are obese.

The new study is part of a growing body of research into the “hedonic mechanisms” contributing to obesity. The preliminary findings captured headlines in October when an abstract presented at a neuroscience meeting in Chicago reported that junk food binge eating is hard to stop.

The final report goes further, and explains just what’s happening in the brain.

Three groups of rats were studied. In addition to unlimited access to their regular chow, one group was given one hour of access a day to the junk food, while another group had 18 to 23 hours of access each day, for 40 consecutive days.

Rats that had one hour access to the junk food binge-ate, gorging on the food during those one-hour sessions, so much so that they consumed almost two-thirds of their daily calories in that one-hour session. “But they didn’t gain weight, and they didn’t show those addiction-like changes,” Dr. Kenny said.

Rats given unlimited access to the sausages, frostings and cakes didn’t binge or gorge, but they snacked all day. They kept eating, consuming twice as many calories as the “control” rats, even when the flashing cue light came on that was paired with a foot shock.

“Many drug addicts know that what they’re doing is bad — they’re damaging their health, their finances, their family. But they find it very difficult to stop — the behaviour is almost beyond their control,” Dr. Kenny said.

“The same thing happened here: The animals kept on eating, even when there was something in the environment that said something bad was going to happen. They simply ignored it, and they just kept on eating.”

Dr. Kenny said treatments known to work for drug addictions may be effective for people who overeat junk food.

skirkey@canwest.com

Posted in addiction, diet, food, junk food, obesity | 3 Comments »

Weight gain destroys body and mind

Posted by Colin Rose on September 30, 2009

Being obese in middle age lowers a woman’s chance of being alive and free of chronic diseases after age 70 by nearly 80 per cent, according to new data from the landmark U.S. Nurses’ Health Study. The findings suggest every bit of weight gain between ages 18 and 50 lowers a woman’s odds of being a “healthy survivor” – living to age 70 or older, free from 11 major chronic diseases as well as physical, cognitive and mental impairment. For every one kilogram of weight gain since age 18, the odds of healthy survival decreased by five per cent, the study found. The worst odds for a long and healthy life were among women who were overweight at 18 – with a body mass index greater than 25 – and who gained 10 kilograms or more by mid-life. But even a higher BMI at 18 alone was associated with “moderately, albeit significantly” reduced odds of healthy survival at much older ages.

Posted in diet, food, obesity | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

“When diet doesn’t work”

Posted by Colin Rose on September 21, 2009

Here is a graphic illustration of the concept of moral hazard as applied to the drug treatment of lifestyle diseases.

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Reprinted from AdWatch

LescolItaly2008-04

Many studies confirm that doctors’ behaviour can be influenced by drug advertising, but many of them are unaware of this.
Not only the advertising text, but also the images play an important part.
For example, see the above image in the Lescol advertisement published in the April 2008 issue of Rivista SIMG (Journal of the Italian Society of General Practitioners).

Lescol (fluvastatin sodium) is one of the statin class of drugs used to treat of high cholesterol when diet and other lifestyle changes don’t work.
The Summary of Product Characteristics states “for best results in lowering cholesterol, it is important that you closely follow the diet suggested by your doctor”.

What kind of advice could the doctor have given the two people on the beach?

They seem to be really happy and relaxed. The pastel colours, the calm sea and the blue sky in the background convey the impression that all is going well and no changes are needed.

The designer must have been influenced by the Colombian painter Fernando Botero, famous for his fat men and women, who generally emanate a sense of calmness and satisfaction.

What I can understand, as a doctor, after looking at this image?
“It doesn’t matter what I advise my patients to eat; it isn’t worth them trying to change their lifestyle behaviours.
Only the pill can make the difference!”

Posted in atherosclerosis, cardiology, cholesterol, diet, drug marketing, drugs, food, junk food, moral hazard, statins | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

WHAT YOU EAT MAKES YOU FAT

Posted by Colin Rose on September 13, 2009

Great article, Joe. We appreciate there are those that are confused. But there are also large numbers who know what is healthy to eat, but easily blind themselves to reality; they are junk food addicts. That “food”  that the cruise passengers are piling on their plates is specifically formulated to appeal to addictions to sugar, salt and the mouth feel of fat. Unfortunately, treating junk food addiction is just as hard as treating addictions to tobacco, cocaine or heroin. Doctors are not trained to and not paid to treat addictions. They are paid to “treat” the symptoms of junk food addiction, like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and “cholesterol” and do futile gastric bypasses. “Treatment” of these symptoms deceives the addict into believing that s/he can avoid the consequences of the addiction and makes the addiction worse. Americans are inundated with direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising, claimed to be a First Amendment right by corporations with $billion ad budgets, promoting this deception and doctors are paid to prescribe those drugs.  Canada is catching up fast. Obesity rates are rising and there is pressure from the media to allow DTC in Canada, presumably guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

The solution? Each individual has to balance the transient pleasure of addiction against the long term disastrous consequences of the addiction. In our society this is the hardest thing most people have to do 24/7/52 for a lifetime and doctors must avoid aggravating addictive behaviour.


WHAT YOU EAT MAKES YOU FAT
JOE SCHWARCZ
The Gazette
13 Sep 2009

Occasionally, I like to spy on people. Only for the sake of science, of course. And what better opportunity to do that than on a cruise ship? I like cruising. Besides outstanding entertainment, impeccable service, interesting ports, activities galore…read more…

 

Posted in addiction, diet, drugs, ethics, food, junk food, lifestyle, moral hazard, obesity, professionalism, statins | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

What a U.S. food expert learned at Tim Hortons and Swiss Chalet

Posted by Colin Rose on May 4, 2009

Read Dr. David Kessler’s The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable North American Appetite (McClelland & Stewart).

“…Kessler has considerable credibility when he discusses how the food industry hijacked our brains with three substances humans find as seductive as sex—salt, sugar and fat—and how the desire for them has overthrown thousands of years of conditioning to create an unprecedented culture of overeating. ”

We have been saying much the same for years. Obesity is caused by junk food addiction. Junk food is deliberately concocted to appeal to the taste of salt and sugar and the mouth feel of fat.

Of course, junk food has been available for at least a century. Why has obesity become a problem only in the last 20 years? For our explanation see our page on obesity.

What a U.S. food expert learned at Tim Hortons and Swiss Chalet

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Posted in addiction, food, junk food, obesity | Leave a Comment »