Monday, January 5, 2015

A Common Genetic Variant Increases the Risk of Obesity Only in People Born After 1942, The Scientist

Gene x Environment x Time                                                                                                 
The curve starts to climb around 1942

When I try to explain why our older generation with gluten sensitivity seems to tolerate and have less problems with gluten and grains I often quote the year 1945, as the turning point, although I have been known to say that I may revise this turning point year to some year earlier.

Let me explain why I have focused on 1945. Vitamin D is a very powerful gene protector, and influences some 2000 genes of our 20,000 genes in total. In 1945, the governments of Canada and the USA stopped giving out free cod liver oil to families with children, giving the idea that vitamin D supplementation is not important, and the tradition to supplement with cod liver oil or vitamin D went into decline. Leading to widespread vitamin D deficiency especially above the 30th parallel. The vitamin D levels in the population is still continuing to decline mainly because of declining exposure to sun, more work and recreation done indoors, and impaired vitamin D metabolism ) I say turning point to explain an observation that I have that those born in North America after 1945 have more complications of gluten sensitivity and increased morbidity and mortality before the age of 65, than the older generation (or those born with more sun exposure or more traditional foods with vitamin D, like cod liver oil, traditionally raised pork lard and wild fatty fish in their diet). 

Dr. Murray showed  in his study published in 2009, that those who were gluten sensitive and born around 1930 had a 400% increased risk of dying by the age of 65. Very disturbing information and worth getting the word out the undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is a public health issue. Note his subjects were born around 1930.

Now we have a study where researchers analyzed changes in body mass index (BMI) over time from 5,000 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study in 1948, as well as their offspring, whose health has been tracked since 1971. They all live in and around Framingham, which is at the 42nd degree parallel.

I am going to focus on the the observed turning point year from this study: 1942.  Those, born before 1942, with the obesity associated gene seemed to have the gene dormant, meaning low risk of obesity.Those born after 1942, on the other hand, tended to have higher BMI levels, and the effect was stronger in the people born later.

What else happened around 1942?
The average person in North America was getting increasingly exposed to chemicals, now known to influence genes through the methylation processes, on/off switches on genes ( now called Epigenetics). Chemicals were introduced into every aspect of life in increasing numbers and numbers of ways. 

Some examples are:

  • Where soap was used, they were replaced with chemical detergents with chemical scents, at home and in industry.
  • Where dental care was non existent except to the upper middle class or more wealthy individuals, now the average American was becoming more affluent than the years before, and so could buy dental care which for the most part was mercury amalgams. Now we have titanium (nickel) implants and BPA containing composites.
  • More makeup was being used by women, and makeup is a source of toxic chemicals. See makeup and lead in lipstick.
  • Air pollution has increased, which leads to toxins being inhaled. 
  • Organic small farming was changed over to large scale commercial farming and the use of pesticides and herbicides, all patented chemicals. And now GMO crops.
  • Fire retardant chemicals on our clothes, and mattresses. 
  • BPA in our plastics, even those that contain food and drink which we then ingest. (And in our medical supplies like IV lines).
  • The diet has increasing amounts of processed food containing larger and larger amounts of chemicals. 
  • Public health officials wrongly promoting low fat (margarine), high omega 6, vegetable oil based diets that are inflammatory. Watch the movie Oiling of America.

The estimate is that we are now exposed to 84,000 chemicals, all influencing our genetics, through our microbiota and direct contact through the food we eat and the air we breath.

From The Scientist (my bold):

The study focused on a particular variant in the fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene, which has been found in several recent studies to confer an increased risk of obesity. Strikingly, the FTO variant was not associated with a higher BMI in people born before 1942. Those born after 1942, on the other hand, tended to have higher BMIs, and the effect was stronger in people who were born later.

Although specific environmental risk factors were not addressed in the study, the researchers propose that the rise of high-calorie diets and more sedentary lifestyles in the U.S. after World War II contributed to the observed effects of the FTO variant. (from my comments above, you know that I don't agree with this proposal as to the cause of these effect, but that severe pervasive vitamin D deficiency along with environmental exposure to chemical, even those in food are more likely to blame).

“We know that environment plays a huge role in the expression of genes, and the fact that our effect can be seen even among siblings born during different years implies that global environmental factors such as trends in food products and workplace activity, not just those found within families, may impact genetic traits,” study coauthor James Rosenquist of Massachusetts General Hospital said in a statement.

“Our results underscore the importance of interpreting any genetic studies with a grain of salt and leave open the possibility that new genetic risk factors may be seen in the future due to different genetically driven responses to our ever-changing environment,” added Rosenquist.
This isn't to say that you can't bypass those genetic tendencies; that your health is predetermined. 

Along with gluten sensitivity, you may have the FTO gene. You can bypass the genetic sensitivities with methylation practices (B vitamins and treat any homocysteine levels above 8), exercising in moderation, sauna detoxification, removing toxins from your environment, doing intermittent fasting, and having a vitamin D level between 50 and 80 ( 120 -200 nmol/l).

An important step I would advise is to replace the obesogenic microbiota, as the microbiota contains 90% of your DNA, and communicates with all your tissues and metabolism. This is done by doing a GAPS programmen: eat fermented vegetables and supplement with probiotics, and starve the bad bugs by withholding, as in not eating carbs from grains, sugar or fructose ( minimal amounts of fructose is advised: keep below 20 -25 Glycemic load points). You can call this way of eating anything you want, but I call it GAPS, the natural treatment.

For my part, I have updated the year I think is the turning point for the increased incidence of gluten sensitivity and other "thrift" genes to 1942. But I think the incidence is on an exponential curve with younger generations more affected.

The hope for the future lies in the fact that we can do something about this. 
To Your Health
Dr. Barbara