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Epigenetics: Are Obesity Genes Always Expressed?

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:30am
There is much excitement about a new branch of the biological sciences. For many years it was thought that we were slaves to our genes. Information always flowed from DNA to RNA to proteins. In fact this idiom was deemed the central dogma of biology. Information only flows in one direction and there is nothing we can do about it.

Well, the central dogma is beginning to yield to new research in the exciting new science of epigenetics. Epigenetics has to do with how environmental influences affect the expression of genes. There is a kind of feedback loop of information that flows back to DNA from the environment. That means that your behaviors (which come from thoughts and beliefs) can indeed affect how your genes are expressed.

In fact writer/scientists such as Bruce Lipton purport that beliefs can affect the way genes are expressed. Change your beliefs and subsequent behaviors and pass these down to subsequent generations and evolution will take care of getting rid of those pesky genes.

In other words there is hope for those of us who are not as blessed genetically as others. You may have the gene for a certain trait but it doesn't have to be expressed if you engage in positive beliefs, thoughts and behaviors.

Recently this idea gained more support with a study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Researchers analyzed Amish subjects and found that those with genes for obesity were less likely to be obese if they engaged in physical activity.

The researchers stated "Our results strongly suggest that the increased risk of obesity due to genetic susceptibility can be blunted through physical activity,"

The gene is called the FTO gene and is responsible for causing obesity and increased body mass index or BMI.

So, just how much activity was shown to affect gene expression? It turns out that an extra 900 kcals (calories) per day should be burned via moderate activity. This equates to about 3 hours of brisk walking or housework.

This is a stretch for sedentary types but it seems that activity produce some really nice rewards for those with this genetic predisposition to obesity and metabolic syndrome. I would even go as far as to say that even 1 hour per day would produce some nice results.

As I always say, health is all about information flow. We are not slaves to our DNA and our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors can feedback to DNA and affect its expression.

Peace and Healing,

Dr. Bruce

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University of Maryland Medical Center (2008, September 10). High Levels Of Physical Activity Can Blunt Effect Of Obesity-related Gene, Study Suggests.
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