Body

Epigenetics and DNA methylation: Risk of obesity influenced by changes in our genes

Some changes in DNA, known as epigenetic modifications, control the activity of our genes without changing the actual DNA sequence. One of the main epigenetic modifications is DNA methylation, which plays a key role in embryonic development and the formation of different cell types, regulating when and where genes are switched on. 

Vitamin D supplements don't prevent cardiovascular disease

In the last few years, vitamin D has been part of a health craze, with claims of it improving just about every possible health outcome while a lack of it has even been linked to things like autism.

Is it a miracle supplement? Not so fast, Joe Mercola. Another large randomized trial (JAMA Cardiology, April 5, 2017; doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2017.0175) has deflated its rowing mythology. A new papers indicate that, despite popular claims, monthly high-dose vitamin D supplementation does not prevent cardiovascular disease.

Common pyrethroid pesticide exposure speeds puberty in boys

Environmental exposure to common pesticides may cause boys to reach sexual maturity earlier, according to a study at the Endocrine Society meeting in Orlando. Previous research found that early puberty increases the risk of diseases in adulthood, for example, testicular cancer in men and breast cancer in women. Early puberty also can stunt growth and cause behavioral problems.

We know metabolism plays a role in cancer development, epigenetics is less clear

Epigenetics claims are all the rage. In the fuzzy world of epidemiology and a shocking lack of understanding about p-values and statistical significance, a whole lot of papers can get published using data that have nothing to say. Epigenetics takes that to another level, with claims that what you eat today could impact the chances of your grandchild getting into Harvard, and more.

Cheese increases breast cancer risk, claims epidemiology paper

A new observational study claims that cheese increases breast cancer risk, while yogurt can lower it. Since both are dairy, that means they would be suggesting a dairy process causes or prevents cancer. The case control study has numerous confounders that will not be noticed by most journalists so media outlets looking for context beware.

Nicotine vapor has a lot fewer genetic effects than cigarette smoke

As anti-smoking groups like the American Council on Science and Health have long contended, while nicotine may be addictive, so are lots of things, from video games to coffee. It's the toxins in cigarette smoke that will kill you.

Should pregnant women avoid licorice?

Licorice is from the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, prized for centuries because it is sweet and because of purported medical properties. Believers in traditional Chinese medicine consider it vital for the 12 regular meridians while Ayurveda claims it rejuvenates the body. Given that it is natural, and has been in use for hundreds of years across the world, it is odd that believers in organic food and other ancient practices are now being told this natural product will harm pregnant women. 

GIANT study finds 83 DNA changes related to height

The international Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) Consortium has uncovered 83 new DNA changes that affect human height, some rare but some adjusting height by more than 2 centimeters. The 700,000-plus-person study also found several genes pointing to previously unknown biological pathways involved in skeletal growth. 

45% of breast cancer patients experience severe side effects

In a recent survey, 93 percent of women said they experienced at least one of seven side effects, which include nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, pain, arm swelling, shortness of breath and breast skin irritation.

Cervical cancer mortality rates underestimated?

Cervical cancer is considered to be rather treatable, and somewhat uncommon, but a new analysis believes the risk of dying from cervical cancer is higher than previously thought.

Less surprisingly, there are still racial differences in mortality.