Friday, October 30, 2015

Cancer-Alcohol Link, 4

Especially as holidays seasons approach, make an informed choice based on the risks you are willing to take, as researchers have identified multiple ways that alcohol may increase the risk of cancer, including:

  •  metabolizing (breaking down) ethanol in alcoholic drinks to acetaldehyde, a  toxic chemical that can damage DNA
  •  generating chemically reactive molecules that contain oxygen, which can damage DNA, proteins, and lipids (fats) through a process called oxidation
  • Impairing the body’s ability to break down and absorb a variety of micro nutrients
  • Increasing blood levels of estrogen, a sex hormone linked to the risk of breast cancer
  • Containing a variety of carcinogenic contaminants such as nitrosamines, asbestos fibers, phenols, and hydrocarbons 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cancer-Alcohol Link, 3

In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The research evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time—the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Epidemiologic research shows that people who use both alcohol and tobacco have much greater risks of developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx (throat), larynx, and esophagus than people who use either alcohol or tobacco alone. In fact, for oral and pharyngeal cancers, the risks associated with using both alcohol and tobacco are multiplicative; that is, they are greater than would be expected from adding the individual risks associated with the use of alcohol and tobacco together. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cancer-Alcohol Link, 2

Studies have also linked the consumption of alcohol with an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer was found to be higher across all levels of alcohol intake. For every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day (slightly less than one drink or 3.5 ounces of wine), researchers observed a seven (7) percent increase in the risk of breast cancer. The Million Women Study in the United Kingdom, which included more than 28,000 women with breast cancer, provided a slightly higher estimate of breast-cancer risk at low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption: every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day was associated with a twelve (12) percent increase in the risk of  cancer.
Cancers fall into the category of chronic diseases and chronic diseases all impact the brain in some way or another. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cancer-Alcohol Link

Based on extensive reviews of research studies have shown that there is a strong scientific consensus of an association between drinking alcohol and cancer. Clear patterns have emerged between alcohol consumption and the development of cancers including:
·         head and neck
·         Esophageal
·         Liver
·         Breast cancer
·         Colorectal cancer - Alcohol consumption is associated with a modestly increased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.  A meta-analysis of 57 cohort and case-control studies that examined the association between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer risk found that for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day (slightly less than one drink or 3.5 ounces of wine), there was a seven (7) percent increase in the risk of colorectal cancer. More tomorrow.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cancer and Wine

Studies suggest that the resveratrol contained in red wines may be protective against some forms of heart disease. Unless it’s a non-alcoholic red wine, getting resveratrol from grapes, raspberries, and peanuts might be a preferred option since studies now indicate that ingesting alcohol increases one’s risk for cancer. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 defines moderate alcohol drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. What does a ‘drink’ mean? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a standard alcoholic drink in the United States contains 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

12 ounces of beer
8 ounces of malt liquor
5 ounces of wine  
1.5 ounces or a ‘shot’ of 80-proof liquor

Friday, October 23, 2015

Autism and Brain Seizures, 2

Using the new-generation of EEG technology developed by Harvard University, Aditi Shankardass PhD reports that nearly 50% of the children previously diagnosed with autism are found to be suffering from some degree of brain seizure activity that is undetectable to the eye. In some cases, these seizures are the cause of the child's autism-like symptoms. In other cases, these seizures are not causal, but coexistent to autism and are exacerbating the child's symptoms. And in a few cases, the seizures are mild and possibly unrelated to, or a consequence of, the child's symptoms. In the cases where these seizures are the cause of the symptoms, once the seizures have been detected and treated, the level and speed of recovery in the children has been remarkable. Dr. Shankardass indicates that “these EEG scans are enabling a more accurate diagnoses and more targeted treatments… hundreds of children, who were undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by the system, are realizing their full potential while there their brains can still recover.”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Autism and Brain Seizures

Almost everywhere I go lately people are asking about autism spectrum disorders, their perceived increase, and whether any diagnostic tests other than behavioral observations exist. You may be interested in watching the TED India 2009 presentation by Aditi Shankardass PhD. She specializes in a groundbreaking Electroencephalogram or EEG diagnostic technology developed by Harvard University, which records and analyses the brain’s electrical activity in real time. This allows researchers to watch the child's brain as it performs various functions, detecting even the slightest abnormalities in these functions, and providing a more accurate and comprehensive clinical picture of the child's brain abnormalities than is available from primarily behavioral observations. According to Dr. Shankardass, results from these EEGs have been startling. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Brain Proverbs, 2

  • Everyone thinks he has more than his share of brain.
  • Every one gives himself credit for more brains than he has, and less money.
  • All the brains are not in one head..
  •  Half a brain is enough for him who says little
  •  The world is governed with little brains.
  • Some many heads, so many brains.


  • Ask for advice, and then use your brain.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Brain Proverbs

I thought it was time for a change of pace so I looked up ‘Brain Proverbs’ on the Internet. Who knew? Several countries tout proverbs relating to the brain. Here are a few.

  •  We need brain more than belly food.
  • Brain is worth more than brawn.
  • Where there are no brains, there is no feeling.
  •  The less the brains, the bigger the hat.
  • You can borrow brains, but you can’t borrow character.


  • A handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains.

Monday, October 19, 2015


What you eat and drink, can affect not only your own health but that of your descendants. A new field of study, ‘Nutrigenomics,’ studies the effect of foods on gene expression. Food ‘talks’ to your genes and they express themselves (activate or turn off) based on those conversations. Foods not only carry information to your genes, but their instructions may increase or decrease your risk for specific diseases. These nutritional signals may affect processes that include cholesterol levels, hormone regulation, aging, and weight fluctuations. Your biological system may respond to processed foods as to foreign invaders rather than as food, which initiates an inflammatory response. This type of chronic inflammation is now a recognized precursor to a variety of serious illnesses. (Adelle Larec, How to Reprogram Your DNA for Optimum Health.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Your Virome, 3

Viruses can kill the organism they invade; eventually disappear (the body kills the virus or there are so few new organisms to infect that the virus tends to disappear; or the virus and its host organisms learn to co-exist. Viruses are able to help spread beneficial bacterial mutations quickly throughout the microbiome and beyond. A 2013 study of the human gut virome tracked the identities, abundance, and mutations of native viruses in one person over 2.5 years. There were 478 relatively abundant viruses, most of which had not been previously identified. A majority of the viruses were bacteriophage, the type that infects bacteria. Eighty percent of the viruses persisted for the entire 2.5 years, but they all mutated: some slowly, some quickly, and some so fast that the virus would be deemed a new species within the 2.5 years. Talk about a miniature micro-star wars . . .

(Enriques, Juan, and Steve Gullans, PhD. Evolving Ourselves. Pg 101-103. NY:Current-Penguin Group, 2015)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Your Virome, 2

When you breathe in viruses after someone sneezes uncovered, the viruses enter your cells, reproduce, release trillions of copies of itself, and proceed to take over other cell. Sometimes viral DNA simply embeds itself in your own human DNA, where it can lie dormant or sometimes come back to life when you least want it, as occurs with recurring cold sores, shingles from a long-past chicken pox, and even some cancers, especially if you immune system is weakened. This is what can happen with Kaposi's sarcoma in immunodeficient patients infected with HIV. Sometimes, a viral code can end up in the DNA in your sperm or eggs, which then gets passed on to future generations. Viruses are champions of DNA mutation, able to carry, exchange, and modify the DNA between cells or from one species to another (e.g., the spread of antibacterial-resistance genes from one bacterial organism to its own species and then on to other bacteria types). More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Your Virome

The human virome is essentially your fourth genome. It interacts directly and indirectly with your other three genomes. Your virome involves the trillions of viruses that are believed to far outnumber both the cells and the microbes within your body. According to authors Enriques and Gullans, there are an estimated 10 billion bacteria in a liter of seawater, there are also 100 billion viruses playing with them. Even more may live inside the soil and dirt that cover your hands. Viruses, and there are at least ten times more of them inside you at any given time than there are bacteria. They live in your intestines, mouths, lungs, skin, and blood, continuously shuttling in and out of your body. Sneeze once, uncovered, and 40,000 droplets, each containing up to 200 million individual viruses, fly across the room at speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Resistant Starch or RS

Speaking of the human Microbiome, have you heard about Resistant Starch?  Prebiotics are generally classified into three different types, one of which is Resistant Starch or RS—which is emerging as uniquely beneficial to help protect against colorectal cancer. Prebiotics were first identified and named by Marcel Roberfroid in 1995 and they differ from probiotics. Typically, a probiotic is a product or preparation that is taken to introduce live strains of bacteria into one’s Gastrointestinal Tract. Yogurt is one example. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are nondigestible plant fibers that are called resistant because they pass through the small intestine undigested and reach the large intestine (or colon or bowel) intact. Many strains of beneficial bacteria that live in the colon feed on prebiotics. Rather than being live bacteria as in probiotics, think of prebiotics as food and fertilizer for the good bacteria that are already living in your GI Tract. They also are believed to stifle production of undesirable disease-causing bacteria—all of which impacts your Microbiome. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Your Microbiome

The human microbiome consists of about 100 trillion bacteria and microbial cells—give or take a few trillion—that outnumber human cells something like ten to one. They can significantly affect human physiology. Changes in one’s microbiome can trigger changes in many cellular activities that can be beneficial or contribute to disease. The results of a small study published in Nature revealed that bacteria living in the gastrointestinal system are surprisingly responsive to change in what a person eats. Moreover, these changes in one’s microbiome can happen incredibly fast—within three or four days of a big shift in what you eat. Lawrence David, assistant professor at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy and one of the study’s authors, evaluated ten participants: some with plant-based diet (avoiding animal products) and others with an animal-based diet (eating milk, cheese, and meat). In the subjects eating animal products the researchers saw a significant increase in Bilophila wadsworthia—reportedly the third most common anaerobic bacteria recovered from patients with perforated and gangrenous appendicitis.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Paternal Contribution

It surprises some to find out that their father’s habits can impact his children and grandchildren, as well. The ALSPAC study showed that males who started smoking before age 11 (just before entering puberty and before they were producing sperm) influenced the health of their sons. By age nine, their boys had significantly higher body mass indexes (BMI). This considerably increased their risk of obesity and other serious health issues including a shortened lifespan. Since none of us influences what our parents and grandparents do or even what happens during our own gestation and for the first few years of life, some may feel hopeless. Nothing could be further from the truth. The science of epigenetics is hopeful. Dawson Church, PhD, author of The Genie in Your Genes, points out that epigenetics potentially can revolutionize your own health through the lifestyle you choose to live and its impact on gene suppression and/or activation. Note: After this epigenome digression (I find it completely fascinating!), next week I’ll get back to another layer that impacts your genome—your microbiome.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Maternal Contribution

Scientists now understand that lifestyle choices are particularly important in terms of the impact to the fetus during gestation. A pregnant mother’s choices (e.g., smoking, drinking alcohol, eating habits and level of nutrition, exercise) can have a huge impact on her unborn child. Babies often like the foods their mother ate during pregnancy. The amount and type of stressors play a part, too. The children of pregnant women who saw the 9-11 World Trade catastrophe were found to have higher levels of cortisol. PTSD may even be transmitted from one generation to the next. According to Debra Bangasser, PhD, a child who experienced a stressful pregnancy may require higher levels of stress just to activate the release of cortisol. Waiting to do things until the very last minute may be indicative of this. For a female fetus, a stressful pregnancy (and/or a stressful first two years of life) can actually result in the female developing a more reactive brain and nervous system, which can increase her reactivity to stress over a lifetime. Paternal Contribution tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Epigenetic Metaphor

This description by David Shenk may help you better understand the impact of epigenetics on genetics. Genes are not like robot actors who always say the same lines in the exact same way. It turns out that they interact with their surroundings and can say different things depending on whom they are talking to. This obliterates the long-standing metaphor of genes as blueprints with elaborate predesigned instructions for eye color, thumb size, mathematical quickness, musical sensitivity, etc. Now we can come up with a more accurate metaphor. Rather than finished blueprints, genes—all 22,000 of them—are more like volume knobs and switches. Think of a giant control board inside every cell of your body. Many of those knobs and switches can be turned up/down/on/off at any time—by another gene or by any miniscule environmental input. This flipping and turning takes place constantly. It begins a moment a child is conceived and doesn’t stop until she takes her last breath. Rather than giving us hardwired instructions on how a trait must be expressed, this process of gene-environment interaction drives a unique developmental path for every unique individual.

(Shenk, David. The Genius in All of Us. P 16. NY:Doubleday, 2010)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Your Epigenome involves the complex environment surrounding your genes as well as the cellular memories filed on protein strands in the nucleus of cells. Not all cells have a nucleus, red blood cells, for example, although most cells do. Bruce Lipton, PhD, is touted as the foremost authority on the link between your emotions and genetic expression. Metaphorically, Dr. Lipton compares the outer layer of the cell (epigene) to a computer chip: DNA represents your genetic hardware; epigenes represent your software. Epigenes convey information about environmental factors that influence both the behavior and the physiology of the cell. Because molecular pathways connect the mind and body, retraining your thinking can change your body. Thus, your thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions are the true keys to optimal wellness. These three additional layers, especially the epigenome, help to explain the reason that 6 billion plus people on this planet, who all differ, do so within a collection of 25,000-30,000 genes. Dr. Lipton’s research helps explain this. Your ‘environment’ includes everything from your attitudes, mindset, thought patterns, self-talk, beliefs, habits, and addictive behaviors. It involves whether or not you are living a Longevity Lifestyle and everything from what you eat and drink to your sleep and exercise patterns, and ad infinitum. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Genome Plus Three

Your genome, 46 chromosomes and the 25,000-30,000 genes on them, was once thought primarily to be in charge of determining your development, including your height, skin hue, eye color, and on and on. In their book Evolving Ourselves, authors Juan Enriques and steve Gullans, PhD, describe three additional layers that have a profound impact on how your genes express themselves and how your brain and body develop and function. These layers are:
·         Epigenome: the complex array of matter surrounding your genes
·         Microbiome: the trillions of bacteria in your body

·         Virome: trillions of viruses that far outnumber both your body’s cells and microbes

Friday, October 2, 2015

The 1% of Your DNA

Researchers say that only 99% of DNA is contained within your chromosomes and the genes (letters spelling out words, phrases, and sentences). Where is the remaining 1%? Turns out it is in your mitochondria: tiny rod-shaped organelles—power generators (energy factories) inside the cell—that convert oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the chemical energy "currency" of the cell that powers all its metabolic processes. If it stops working properly you are out of energy. Period. Unlike chromosomal DNA that is inherited from both parents, you get all your mitochondrial DNA from your mother. What happens when mitochondrial DNA mutates? More next time.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Secret DNA Language

Work by Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos has discovered a secret language, if you will. About 15% of DNA’s 64-letter alphabet (codons) are dual-use codons (duons) that simultaneously specify both amino acids and transcription factor (TF) sequences. This means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously. For example, (e.g., sickle cell anemia can be caused by a change in one single gene). If you think of DNA as a language with 64 letters in its alphabet, it makes sense (metaphorically) that if one of the words is misspelled, the meaning to the phrase or sentence can be completely changed. Imagine you were writing a paper for school and instead of using the word ‘mine’ your used the word ‘mime.’ That ‘mistake’ could give an entirely different meaning to the gist of your paper and could result in the professor giving you a lower grade. More tomorrow.