An international team of scientists, led by researchers at McMaster and McGill universities, has found that you may be able to change the effect of the genes you're given by your parents.
The researchers discovered the gene that is the strongest marker for heart disease, called 9p21, can actually be modified through the consumption of generous amounts of fruit and raw vegetables.
"We observed that the effect of a high-risk genotype can be mitigated by consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables," said Sonia Anand, joint principal investigator of the study and a researcher at the Population Health Research Institute and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University.
"Our results support the public health recommendation to consume more than five servings of fruits or vegetables as a way to promote good health."
The research, which represents one of the largest gene-diet interaction studies ever conducted on cardiovascular disease, involved the analysis of more than 27,000 individuals from five ethnicities - European, South Asian, Chinese, Latin American and Arab - and the affect that their diets had on the effect of the 9p21 gene. The results suggest that individuals with the high-risk genotype who consumed a prudent diet, composed mainly of raw vegetables, fruits and berries, had a similar risk of heart attack to those with the low-risk genotype.
"We know that 9p21 genetic variants increase the risk of heart disease for those that carry it," said Jamie Engert, joint principal investigator of the study and researcher in cardiovascular diseases at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and associate member in the Department of Human Genetics at McGill University. "But it was a surprise to find that a healthy diet could significantly weaken its effect."
"Our research suggests there may be an important interplay between genes and diet in cardiovascular disease," said the study's lead author Ron Do, who conducted this research as part of his PhD at McGill and is now based at the Center for Human Genetics Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "Future research is necessary to understand the mechanism of this interaction, which will shed light on the underlying metabolic processes that the 9p21 gene is involved in."
The results of the study are published in the current issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by The Zestzfulness Team) from materials provided By McMaster University on October 12, 2011. http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/
Ron Do, Changchun Xie, Xiaohe Zhang, Satu Männistö, Kennet Harald, Shofiqul Islam, Swneke D. Bailey, Sumathy Rangarajan, Matthew J. McQueen, Rafael Diaz, Liu Lisheng, Xingyu Wang, Kaisa Silander, Leena Peltonen, Salim Yusuf, Veikko Salomaa, James C. Engert, Sonia S. Anand. The Effect of Chromosome 9p21 Variants on Cardiovascular Disease May Be Modified by Dietary Intake: Evidence from a Case/Control and a Prospective Study. PLoS Medicine, 2011; 9 (10): e1001106 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001106
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