Fukushima: Everyone From Japan Has Had Health Problems

Fukushima: Hawaii-Based Nonprofit Group Says “Every Single Person” They Hosted from Japan Has Had Health Problems

Fukushima: Hawaii-Based Nonprofit Group Says “Every Single Person” They Hosted from Japan Has Had Health Problems

Interview with Vicki Nelson, founder of Fukushima Friends (nonprofit organization which facilitates trips to Hawaii for Fukushima radiation refugees), Nuclear Hotseat hosted by Libbe HaLevy, Jun 9, 2015 (at 16:30 in):

  • Vicki Nelson, founder of Fukushima Friends (emphasis added): We have a home that’s open for them to come and experience some time of respite and eat different food. What we’ve been experiencing also is that every single person that comes has reaction to the change as soon as they come here. There’s been people who have vomited, they’ve been having nosebleeds, they’ve been dizzy, they’ve been very ashen in color.
  • Libbe HaLevy, host: This is once they have left Japan? In other words, it is the lack of the radiation that allows them to then have these reactions?
  • Nelson: It’s like it is expelling from their body. There’s diarrhea, there’s nosebleeds— almost every single person has had nosebleeds on their pillow. I find blood, and they don’t want to tell me that they have these reactions, they’re embarrassed. Tokiko’s son [from Koriyama, Fukushima] vomited the whole first week practically, and had diarrhea. We actually took him to the hospital because we felt that he was dehydrated. They did run tests, and they said yes he was dehydrated. So he was kept overnight at the Hilo hospital on the big island and cared for.

Meeting hosted by Andrew Cash, member of Canadian parliament, Dec 2012 — Japanese mother (at 2:12:30 in): “My home town is Sapporo [northernmost island in Japan]… In my city, no one thinks about radiation. I found a group of escaped mothers from Tokyo and the Fukushima area, and I was very surprised… Most of them had thyroid problems, or eye problems, or nose bleeds… They are very worried about it. In Japan we knew about the meltdowns two months after the meltdowns happened, so we can have no information about radiation. Now the government is telling us to eat food from Fukushima. We can’t rely on government. The TV said Fukushima is safe, no problem… Fukushima is good to live. They want to invite a lot of tourists to Fukushima.

 

PLUS:

  • Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admits record radiation spike in port water from Fukushima Daiichi leak.
  • Japanese government gets pushback for plan to end rent subsidies for some Fukushima evacuees/refugees.
  • Japan plans nuke restarts despite severe volcanic activity less than 50 miles from reactor site.
  • The pro-nuclear International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) releases report that Japan’s overconfidence regarding the safety of its nuclear power plants was a major reason behind the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
  • AND – Japan plans for nukes to supply 20-22% of all electricity in the country by 2030.  What’s wrong with this picture?

 

Source:  globalresearch.ca

Majority of American’s are now Obese

Most American's are Obese

Most American’s are Obese

The number of overweight and obese adults in the United States continues to rise, according to a new study that’s found more than two-thirds of adult Americans aged 25 years or older are now overweight or obese.

The research analysed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which ran from 2007 to 2012, and included information on a sample of 15,208 men and women. Based on the data, the researchers estimate that 39.96 percent of US men (36.3 million) are overweight and 35.04 percent (31.8 million) are obese.

 For women, the estimates are 29.74 percent (28.9 million) of them are overweight, while 36.84 percent (35.8 million) are obese. If you do the maths, sure enough, the number of obese adult Americans (67.6 million) now eclipses those who are only overweight (65.2 million).

What’s so remarkable about the research, conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is just how stark the numbers are for the US population. Every three in four men is overweight or obese, and the same can be said for two out of every three women.

In other words, people in healthy weight ranges in the US make up only a distinct minority of the population, especially when you consider that some portion of the remainder in these figures will be people who are actually underweight.

The researchers found the African American community has the biggest problem with obesity – affecting 39 percent of black men and 57 percent of black women – followed by Mexican Americans and then whites.

A similar study was published back in 1999, finding that 63 percent of men and 55 percent of women aged 25 and older were overweight or obese, so clearly the problem has only gotten worse over the last two decades, despite efforts from the government and the health community to educate people on how to take care of themselves when it comes to food and lifestyle choices.

“This is a wakeup call to implement policies and practices designed to combat overweight and obesity,” said Lin Yang, the study’s lead, in a statement. “An effort that spans multiple sectors must be made to stop or reverse this trend that is compromising and shortening the lives of many.”

Scary stuff, but hopefully this latest research will help galvanise efforts to turn weights around in the US and put healthy eating and living squarely back on the agenda.

 

Source:  sciencealert.com

Fungus Super food “The Mushroom Of Immortality”

“The Mushroom Of Immortality”

“The Mushroom Of Immortality”

Chaga is a non-toxic fungal parasite that grows on birch trees (as well as a few other types) in Northern climates. It is far from your typical soft and squishy mushroom, it actually looks and feels like burnt wood or charcoal. Chaga is known by the Siberians as the “Gift From God” and the “Mushroom of Immortality.” The Japanese call it “The Diamond of the Forest,” and the Chinese refer to it as the “King of Plants.” The Chinese also regard it as an amazing factor inachieving longevity. Chaga does grow in North America, but most Americans have no clue of its existence, let alone amazing healing properties, which will be listed below.

This mushroom of immortality is said to have the highest level of anti-oxidants of any food in the world and also, the highest level of superoxide dismutase (one of the body’s primary internal anti-oxidant defenses) that can be detected in any food or herb. The active constituents of Chaga are a combination of: amino acids, beta glucans, betulinic acid, calcium, chloride, copper, dietary fiber, enzymes, flavonoids, germanium, iron, lanosterol, manganese, magnesium, melanin, pantothenic acid, phenols, phosphorus, polysaccharides, potassium, saponins, selenium, sodium, sterols, trametenolic acid, tripeptides, triterpenes, triterpenoids, vannillic acid, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, Vitamin D2, Vitamin K and zinc. Phew.

Chaga is extremely powerful because it contains within it, the actual life force of trees -the most powerful living beings on this Earth. Trees can live for as long as 10,000 years with some even surpassing that. Chaga concentrates this power, and we can harvest it as well. One of the most important properties of Chaga is betulinic acid, however, in order for chaga to be beneficial, it has to be harvested from birch trees only. Birch trees are the only trees that contain this amazing compound. Betulinic acid has a wide range of biological effects including potent antitumor activity.
Some Other Medicinal Properties Of The Chaga Mushroom Include:

  • Anti-HIV – a study published in The Pharmological Potential Of Mushrooms demonstrated chaga’s potential to lessen symptoms of HIV.
  • Antibacterial – Chaga kills or inhibits growth or replication by suppressing or destroying the reproduction of bacteria.
  • Anti-Inflammatory – Chaga is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, which makes it excellent for conditions such as arthritis.
  • Anti-Candida – Because chaga promotes and protects the liver, candida toxins are processed efficiently.
  • Adaptogen – Chaga is an Adaptogen. Its compounds can increase the body’s capability of adapting to stress, fatigue and anxiety. (Something most Americans can definitely benefit from.)
  • Many other potential benefits include the treatment of asthma, hair loss, allergies, boosting the immune system, diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, psoriasis, anti-aging and literally hundreds of others.

How To Prepare Wild Chaga Mushroom Tea

Chaga mushrooms grow wild in forests in Northern climates on birch trees. If you are lucky enough to find one, you’ll want to harvest it, as chaga can be quite expensive to purchase. DO NOT cut into the tree to retrieve the chaga, doing so could kill the tree. If retrieved correctly the chaga will continue to grow and will be ready to harvest every four years or so, and the tree will continue to thrive.

***It is important to properly identify the chaga mushroom before consumption. To ensure you are getting the correct fungus, make sure that you are harvesting from birch trees only. Chaga has a similar texture to wood and looks a lot like burnt wood or charcoal, inside it should be a golden orangy color. Be sure to look it up before consuming if you are unsure just to be safe!***

To make the tea, cut a few small pieces off the chaga and place it in a pot. Pour in about 2 liters of filtered water and cover with a lid. Bring the pot to a boil for a minute or so, then reduce the heat to a simmer and keep the lid off. Let this simmer for about an hour and then add in another liter of water and continue to simmer with the lid on for another hour. This will make approximately 1 liter of chaga mushroom tea. It is a time consuming process, but I think that the amazing benefits justify the process, plus it tastes great! It tastes like a nice vanilla flavored black tea. You can add honey or sweetener if you wish, but I think it tastes surprisingly delicious on its own.

Aspartame proven to cause brain damage

Aspartame Damages The Brain at Any Dose

Aspartame Damages The Brain at Any Dose

Did you know that Aspartame has been proven to cause brain damage by leaving traces of Methanol in the blood? It makes you wonder why Aspartame has been approved as “safe” and is found in thousands of food products. Currently more than 90 countries have given the artificial sweetener the “OK” to be used in foods.

“Multiple Sclerosis is often misdiagnosed, and that it could be aspartame poisoning” 

Given that Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, manufacturers are able to produce their sweet foods and market them as “low calorie” so they can market and appeal to millions of people on “diets.” There is no doubt that the less sugar you have in your diet, the better. But replacing sugar with aspartame is not the solution, and in fact is likely to be even worse for your health.

In my personal experience, Aspartame has always made my head feel very odd when I consumed it. Headaches, light headedness and overall nausea, are all symptoms I personally feel from consuming Aspartame. But that isn’t even the bad part when you look at what all of the research is suggesting. So I question, and everyone should be asking the same: With all of the research about Aspartame and its dangerous effects, even in small quantities, why is it still approved by the FDA and other health agencies as being safe for human consumption? There are better solutions available and with less danger and side effects.

 

Source:  w.collective-evolution.com

Creativity and mental health

Creativity linked to mental health:

 

Creativity linked to mental health

Creativity linked to mental health

 

New research shows a possible explanation for the link between mental health and creativity. By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with schizophrenia.

High creative skills have been shown to be somewhat more common in people who have mental illness in the family. Creativity is also linked to a slightly higher risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Certain psychological traits, such as the ability to make unusual pr bizarre associations are also shared by schizophrenics and healthy, highly creative people. And now the correlation between creativity and mental health has scientific backing.

“We have studied the brain and the dopamine D2 receptors, and have shown that the dopamine system of healthy, highly creative people is similar to that found in people with schizophrenia,” says associate professor Fredrik Ullén from Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Women’s and Children’s Health.

Just which brain mechanisms are responsible for this correlation is still something of a mystery, but Dr Ullén conjectures that the function of systems in the brain that use dopamine is significant; for example, studies have shown that dopamine receptor genes are linked to ability for divergent thought. Dr Ullén’s study measured the creativity of healthy individuals using divergent psychological tests, in which the task was to find many different solutions to a problem.

“The study shows that highly creative people who did well on the divergent tests had a lower density of D2 receptors in the thalamus than less creative people,” says Dr Ullén. “Schizophrenics are also known to have low D2 density in this part of the brain, suggesting a cause of the link between mental illness and creativity.”

The thalamus serves as a kind of relay centre, filtering information before it reaches areas of the cortex, which is responsible, amongst other things, for cognition and reasoning.

“Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus,” says Dr Ullén, and explains that this could a possible mechanism behind the ability of healthy highly creative people to see numerous uncommon connections in a problem-solving situation and the bizarre associations found in the mentally ill.

“Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box,” says Dr Ullén about his new findings.

 

Source:  sciencecodex.com

Vitamin D deficiency damages Brain

Vitamin D deficiency may damage the brain, study finds:

 

Vitamin D deficiency may damage the brain, study finds

Vitamin D deficiency may damage the brain, study finds

Getting enough vitamin D may not just be good for your bone health; it may keep your brain healthy as well.

According to a new study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, rats who were fed diets low in vitamin D for a long period of time developed free radical brain damage and performed poorly in cognitive functioning tests compared to rats fed a normal diet, Medical News Today reported.

The researchers also found that the rats who were vitamin D deficient had significantly higher levels of several other brain proteins, which potentially contributed to significant nitrosative stress in the brain.

Previous studies have linked low levels of vitamin D to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and the development of some cancers.  Although this study was performed on rodents, the researchers argued that with vitamin D deficiency increasing in the United States, its potential effects on the aging population should not go overlooked.

“Given that vitamin D deficiency is especially widespread among the elderly, we investigated how, during aging from middle-age to old-age, low vitamin D affected the oxidative status of the brain,”said lead author Allan Butterfield,  professor in the U.K. Department of Chemistry and director of the Center of Membrane Sciences.  “Adequate vitamin D serum levels are necessary to prevent free radical damage in brain and subsequent deleterious consequences.”

News will kill you

News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier:

News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether

News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether

 

News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether. In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

News misleads. Take the following event (borrowed from Nassim Taleb). A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? The car. The person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). But that is all irrelevant. What’s relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. That’s the underlying risk that has been lurking, and could lurk in other bridges. But the car is flashy, it’s dramatic, it’s a person (non-abstract), and it’s news that’s cheap to produce. News leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads. So terrorism is over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated.

We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk, regardless of its real probability. If you think you can compensate with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news-borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.

News is irrelevant. Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognise what’s relevant. It’s much easier to recognise what’s new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. Media organisations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. Many fall for that. We get anxious when we’re cut off from the flow of news. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.

News has no explanatory power. News items are bubbles popping on the surface of a deeper world. Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The relationship is inverted. The important stories are non-stories: slow, powerful movements that develop below journalists’ radar but have a transforming effect. The more “news factoids” you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand. If more information leads to higher economic success, we’d expect journalists to be at the top of the pyramid. That’s not the case.

News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol). This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitisation.

News increases cognitive errors. News feeds the mother of all cognitive errors: confirmation bias. In the words of Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” News exacerbates this flaw. We become prone to overconfidence, take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities. It also exacerbates another cognitive error: the story bias. Our brains crave stories that “make sense” – even if they don’t correspond to reality. Any journalist who writes, “The market moved because of X” or “the company went bankrupt because of Y” is an idiot. I am fed up with this cheap way of “explaining” the world.

News inhibits thinking. Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it’s worse than that. News severely affects memory. There are two types of memory. Long-range memory’s capacity is nearly infinite, but working memory is limited to a certain amount of slippery data. The path from short-term to long-term memory is a choke-point in the brain, but anything you want to understand must pass through it. If this passageway is disrupted, nothing gets through. Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension. Online news has an even worse impact. In a 2001 study two scholars in Canada showed that comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increases. Why? Because whenever a link appears, your brain has to at least make the choice not to click, which in itself is distracting. News is an intentional interruption system.

News works like a drug. As stories develop, we want to know how they continue. With hundreds of arbitrary storylines in our heads, this craving is increasingly compelling and hard to ignore. Scientists used to think that the dense connections formed among the 100 billion neurons inside our skulls were largely fixed by the time we reached adulthood. Today we know that this is not the case. Nerve cells routinely break old connections and form new ones. The more news we consume, the more we exercise the neural circuits devoted to skimming and multitasking while ignoring those used for reading deeply and thinking with profound focus. Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages they get tired, their concentration vanishes, they become restless. It’s not because they got older or their schedules became more onerous. It’s because the physical structure of their brains has changed.

News wastes time. If you read the newspaper for 15 minutes each morning, then check the news for 15 minutes during lunch and 15 minutes before you go to bed, then add five minutes here and there when you’re at work, then count distraction and refocusing time, you will lose at least half a day every week. Information is no longer a scarce commodity. But attention is. You are not that irresponsible with your money, reputation or health. Why give away your mind?

News makes us passive. News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitised, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is “learned helplessness”. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I would not be surprised if news consumption, at least partially contributes to the widespread disease of depression.

News kills creativity. Finally, things we already know limit our creativity. This is one reason that mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age. Their brains enjoy a wide, uninhabited space that emboldens them to come up with and pursue novel ideas. I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.

Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don’t have to arrive in the form of news. Long journal articles and in-depth books are good, too.

I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Nutrition and Health based on flimsiest evidence.

The Surprising Reason People Get Fat:

 

The Surprising Reason People Get Fat

The Surprising Reason People Get Fat

 

“I want to convince you that the conventional wisdom about weight gain is wrong,” declared Gary Taubes. The idea that eating too much and exercising too little is the culprit is, he said, “as obsolete as the belief that the sun rotates around the earth.” Thus began the most revolutionary presentation in the five-year history of the Nutrition and Health Conference, an annual three-day event co-sponsored by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (founded by Dr. Weil in 1994). Held most recently in Phoenix, Arizona in April of 2008, it attracted some 500 health care professionals from around the world, and the packed house at Arizona Grand Resort made it clear that Taubes was a headliner. The writer, trained in applied physics at Harvard and aerospace engineering at Stanford, specializes in parsing hot science controversies in articles and books (such as 1993’s Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion). He is widely credited with kicking off the national low-carb diet trend with his July 2002 New York Times Magazine article, What If It’s All Been a Big, Fat Lie? In 2007, he published Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control and Disease, a book that led the New York Times to assert that “Gary Taubes is a brave and bold science journalist” who shows that “much of what is believed about nutrition and health is based on the flimsiest evidence.” Taubes’ message: political pressure and sloppy science over the last 50 years have skewed research to make it seem that dietary fat and cholesterol are the main causes of obesity and heart disease, but there is, in fact, little or no objective data to support that hypothesis. A more careful look (Taubes researched his book for five years, its 450 pages include 60 pages of footnotes) reveals that the real obesity-epidemic drivers are increased consumption of refined carbohydrates, mainly sugar and white flour. Further, as he stated in his conference presentation, obesity is not “a disorder of energy imbalance,” in which weak-willed people eat too much and exercise too little, but rather “a disorder of excess fat accumulation” in which the body, not the brain, is the primary culprit. Eating too much and exercising too little are side effects, not causes, of the active role of carbohydrate-driven hormones on the whole organism, including the brain. Much of Taubes’ presentation was devoted to illustrating the central role that glucose and insulin – both of which are products of carbohydrate metabolism – play in fat deposition. A chemical compound derived from glucose, he said, turns fatty acids – the “burnable” kind of fat – into triglycerides, the “storable” form of fat. Consequently, “Anything that works to transport glucose into fat cells works to deposit fat.” And what transports glucose into fat cells? Insulin. “When insulin is secreted or chronically elevated, fat accumulates in fat tissue,” he said. “When insulin levels drop, fat escapes from fat tissue and the fat depots shrink.” Bottom line: “Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat deposition.” So when it comes to accumulating fat, carbohydrates are indeed “bad calories,” as they are the only ones that boost insulin and make fat accumulation possible. Highly refined carbohydrates are even worse, as they lead to insulin surges and subsequent drops, which creates a hunger for more – hunger so voracious that, for most people, it can’t be overcome by willpower. Refined carbohydrates, Taubes contends in his book, are literally addictive. So what’s the scientific weight-loss solution? Taubes asserted that since the fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be, our diets should emphasize meat, fish, fowl, cheese, butter, eggs and non-starchy vegetables. Conversely, we should reduce or, preferably, eliminate bread and other baked goods, potatoes, yams, rice, pasta, cereal grains, corn, sugar (both sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, bananas and other tropical fruits, and beer. Excluding carbohydrates from the diet, he said, derails the insulin peak/dip roller coaster, so one is never voraciously hungry, making weight loss and healthy-weight maintenance easy. “When you eat this way, the fat just melts off,” he said after his speech – and Taubes is indeed a lean fellow. While Dr. Weil agrees with most of Taubes’ research, he draws the line at the writer’s specific dietary recommendations: “I don’t agree that the way to respond to this information is to eat a diet that is mostly meat and no carbohydrate.” He said instead that people should eat animal protein two to three times per week – mostly as fatty, cold-water fish to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids – and otherwise eat carbohydrate foods that rank low on the glycemic load scale. “All carbohydrates are not the same, nor do all people react to them in the same way,” he said. “That needs to be taken into account.” But overall, Dr. Weil, like the other assembled health-care professionals, came away impressed. “I invited Gary to speak, and I’ve been recommending the book to my medical colleagues and students. It’s important to get this information out to the medical community, because a lot of the ways that we try to prevent and treat obesity are based on assumptions that have no scientific evidence.”

 

80 percent of JUNK DNA code controls Health

DNA ‘Junk’ Now Seen as Complex Switches Controlling Health:

DNA ‘Junk’ Now Seen as Complex Switches Controlling Health

DNA ‘Junk’ Now Seen as Complex Switches Controlling Health

Almost a decade after the U.S. human genome project was completed, scientists say they have mapped the underlying regulatory system that switches DNA on and off, potentially spurring a wave of new research into the molecular basis of complex diseases such as Type 1 diabetes. Many parts of DNA previously termed “junk” by scientists are, instead, levers that control the genetic activity that can lead alternately to health or illness, according to reports published simultaneously today in the journals Science and Nature by the Encode international consortium. Scientists previously thought that only genes, small pieces of DNA that comprise about 1 percent of the genome, have a function. The new findings show that an underlying circuitry exists in which 80 percent of the DNA code within each human cell can contribute to disease. This may be why large studies targeting gene variants haven’t identified treatable causes for many complex maladies, the scientists said. The circuitry can be disrupted at several individual waypoints. “This takes us from a concentration on individual genes to the whole genome,” said Eric Topol, professor of translational genomics at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, in a telephone interview. “This series of articles is amazing, it’s a blitz of information.” The science consortium identified about 4 million genetic switches, though the researchers expect the number will rise as more discoveries are made, said Ewan Birney, the associate director of the Cambridge-based EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute in the U.K. The circuitry identified by the group regulates about 20,000 genes, he said in a conference call. Encode, short for The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, was started in September 2003, just five months after the U.S. Human Genome Project was declared over. Its broad goal was to identify all elements in the genome that had a function. The $288 million project, funded by a unit of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, eventually gathered 443 scientists from more than 30 institutions worldwide into the consortium that made today’s announcements. More than 1,600 experiments on 147 types of tissue were performed. “It was an extraordinary group response right from the start,” said Tim Hubbard, who leads the Cambridge-based Vertebrate Genome Analysis Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the U.K. “We had a map, but we needed insight into the function of each part of the genome. ‘‘I can’t say there was one person who drove it,’’ he said. ‘‘I think the model provided by the Human Genome Project and the role of the Internet intersected at a certain point to bring many voices together to say this is what we need to do next. It was unusual then, but becoming less so now.’’ Six of the studies published today appeared in Nature and two in the journal Science. Several more appeared in Genome Research and Genome Biology, showing the extraordinary range of the material being presented. The Encode results demonstrate the importance of DNA feedback mechanisms that the genome uses to control itself, said John Stamatoyannopoulos, a study author and associate professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. While the vast majority of human DNA doesn’t make cellular proteins, today’s results suggest they may create the RNA molecules that help regulate when a gene turns off and on, and creates specific types of proteins. Additionally, the non-coding DNA also may boost or muffle a gene’s expression. ‘‘It’s like a brain in every cell,” Stamatoyannopoulos said in a telephone interview. Scientists studying individual genes and proteins will be able to use the Encode data to gain more insight into regulatory mechanisms in their individual areas of research, said Stephen Elledge, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The data will help researchers better understand how regulatory changes underlying genetic activity might affect people’s risk or severity of disease, he said. Genome-wide association studies are done by scanning the genome for many people to find variations linked to disease. About 93 percent of the variants found in this research hasn’t involved genes that code for proteins, and few explain the bulk of most complex diseases, Stamatoyannopoulos said. His study, published in Science, found that 76 percent of these disease-associated variants existed within or near regulatory DNA, suggesting a more complex cause may exist. His group also determined many complex disease share some genomic switches, including autoimmune diseases such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes and lupus. “We knew that hidden out there were instructions for turning things off and on and understanding that process was necessary for understanding disease,” Stamatoyannopoulos said. In a paper in Nature, Job Dekker, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts, and his team demonstrated using three-dimensional models that many regulatory regions work by directly touching genes when folded. The Human Genome Project was a 13-year research effort to identify the approximately 20,000 genes in human DNA, and determine which sequences of the chemical base pairs make up DNA. The research allowed scientists to understand the sets of genetic instructions found in human cells. In people, the genome is 23 pairs of chromosomes. The newest results take that road map further. “This is a story of comprehensiveness,” said Thomas Gingeras, one of the study authors and the head of functional genomics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on New York’s Long Island. “Now we have a large number of these regulatory regions and a sense of when they’re activated.”