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Diet Has Major Impact On How Our Genes Function

December 6, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. research finds that though aging causes major molecular changes to our genes, what we eat also has a big effect. Molecular changes to our genes – called epigenetic marks – can be reduced, for example, by consuming adequate levels of selenium and vitamin D. But high blood folate and obesity increase the genetic changes. The epigenetic changes do not alter DNA, but control whether genes are turned on or off. Some changes can determine whether cancer develops. The researchers examined the colon cells of volunteers attending a colonoscopy clinic. Men in the study tended to have more epigenetic changes than women, which may partly explain why men are at greater risk of colon cancer.
Henri S Tapp et al., "Nutritional factors and gender influence age-related DNA methylation in the human rectal mucosa", Aging Cell, December 06, 2012, © Tapp et al.
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