Thursday, January 15, 2009

Spinning DNA plasticity into a story

An article in todays Herald Sun wrote:
Fatness can be genetic, say scientists (January 16, 2009)

FAT parents are condemning their children to obesity and disease.
Fat people reprogram controls over their DNA and pass on fatness and disease not only to their children, but to future generations.

Melbourne scientists have proved for the first time that damage done by unhealthy eating is "remembered" in genetic controls - epigenetics - and turns off good genes needed to prevent diabetes, heart disease and other complications, the Herald Sun reports.

Lead researcher Assoc Prof Assam El-Osta, from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute team, said this meant that eating a chocolate would not only go straight to your hips, but also sit on your DNA. "It is this idea that you are what you eat, and perhaps that is a reflection of what your parents ate, and perhaps what your grandparents ate," he said.

HOLD YOUR HORSES!!! yes we all know that these articles are written to shock readers and create a drama so more people will buy papers....but arnt they missing the point? That DNA are actually mouldable and changable IN ALL DIRECTIONS.

Scientists have recently discovered that our brains have the quality of neuro-plasticity (meaning that we can learn new habits and develop new brain funtions and skills even if parts of the brain is damaged). Is it not possible that DNA are actually mouldable and change in response to a persons habit throughout their lifetime? So, yes this does mean that a person will pass on their habits through their DNA to future generations BUT that this will include the good (a very subjective word) ones as well as the bad (again very subjective) AND that the next generation will have the ability to also mould their DNA in a different and new direction or back in the direction from whence it came.


And so, later on in the article Prof explains

Prof El-Osta said: "This is not all doom and gloom . . . we think there is good epigenetic memory as well for individuals who have a good diet, not only for themselves but potentially for future generations.

"If you have had five years of bad control, where good genes are switched off and bad genes switched on, changing that for a couple of months to a good diet may not have a tremendous impact.

"But going back to a good diet would have some effect 10 years later. Dieting doesn't work because what you ate two months or two years ago is going to be reflected now."

The title of the article was "you can blame you mum and dad if you're fat", when in reality it could and should have been - "scientist proves that short term dieting doesn't work"

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