Home Healthy Nutrition Tips Dialing Down the Grim Reaper Gene

Dialing Down the Grim Reaper Gene

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Only about 1 in 10,000 individuals stay to be a 100 years previous. What’s their secret? I talk about this in my video Animal Protein Compared to Cigarette Smoking.

In 1993, a serious breakthrough in longevity analysis was revealed a few single genetic mutation that doubled the lifespan of a tiny roundworm. Instead of all worms being lifeless by 30 days, the mutants lived 60 days or longer. This lifespan extension was “the largest yet reported in any organism.” This methuselah worm, a “medical marvel,” is “the equivalent of a healthy 200-year-old human.” All due to a single mutation? That shouldn’t happen. Presumably, aging is brought on by multiple processes, affected by many genes. How might knocking out a single gene double lifespan?

What is this aging gene—a gene that so accelerates aging that if it’s knocked out, the animals stay twice as long? It’s been referred to as the Grim Reaper gene and is the worm equal of the human insulin-like progress issue 1 (IGF-1) receptor. Mutations of that same receptor in humans might help explain why some individuals stay to be 100 and other individuals don’t.

So, is it simply the luck of the draw whether or not we acquired good genes or dangerous ones? No, we will turn on and off the expression of those genes, relying on what we eat. Years ago I profiled a exceptional collection of experiments about IGF-1, a cancer-promoting progress hormone released in extra amounts by our liver once we eat animal protein. Men and women who don’t eat meat, egg white, or dairy proteins have significantly lower ranges of IGF-1 circulating within their bodies, and switching individuals to a plant-based weight loss plan can significantly lower IGF-1 ranges within simply 11 days, markedly enhancing the means of women’s bloodstreams to suppress breast cancer cell progress after which kill off breast cancer cells.

Similarly, the blood serum of men on a plant-based eating regimen suppresses prostate cancer cell progress about eight occasions higher than earlier than they changed their weight loss plan. However, this dramatic enchancment in cancer defenses is abolished if just the amount of IGF-1 banished from their methods because of eating and dwelling more healthy is added back. This is one strategy to explain the low charges of cancer among plant-based populations: The drop in animal protein intake leads to a drop in IGF-1, which in flip results in a drop in cancer progress. The effect is so powerful that Dr. Dean Ornish and colleagues appeared to have the ability to reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer with out chemotherapy, surgical procedure, or radiation—only a plant-based weight-reduction plan and way of life program.

When we’re youngsters, we’d like progress hormones to develop. There’s a uncommon genetic defect that causes severe IGF-1 deficiency, leading to a kind of dwarfism. It also apparently makes you effectively cancer-proof. A research reported not a single demise from most cancers in about 100 individuals with IGF-1 deficiency. What about 200 people? None developed most cancers. Most malignant tumors are coated in IGF-1 receptors, but if there’s no IGF-1 around, they could not have the ability to grow and unfold.

This might assist explain why lives look like minimize brief by eating low-carb diets. It’s not simply any low-carb weight-reduction plan, though. Specifically, low-carb diets based mostly on animal sources look like the drawback, whereas vegetable-based low-carb diets have been associated with a lower danger of dying. But low-carb diets are high in animal fat as well as animal protein, so how do we know the saturated animal fat wasn’t killing off individuals and it had nothing to do with the protein? What we’d like is a research that follows a number of thousand individuals and their protein intakes for 20 years or so, and sees who lives longest, who gets cancer, and who doesn’t. But, there had by no means been a research like that…till now.

Six thousand men and women over age 50 from throughout the United States have been adopted for 18 years, and those beneath age 65 with excessive protein intakes had a 75 % improve in general mortality and a fourfold improve in the danger of dying from cancer. Does it matter what sort of protein? Yes. “These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived,” which is sensible given the greater IGF-1 ranges in those eating extra protein.

The sponsoring college sent out a press launch with a memorable opening line: “That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette.” It defined that “eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet—a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.” And once they say “low-protein diet,” what they really imply is getting the really helpful quantity of protein.

“Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancer cell in them at some point. The question is: Does it progress?” stated one among the lead researchers. That might rely upon what we eat.

“[T]he question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days,” a researcher noted, “but can it help you survive to be 100?” Excessive protein consumption isn’t solely “linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources…are also more susceptible to early death in general.” Crucially, the similar didn’t apply to plant proteins like beans, and it wasn’t the fat; the animal protein seemed to be the wrongdoer.

What was the response to the revelation that diets high in meat, eggs, and dairy might be as dangerous to health as smoking? One nutrition scientist replied that it was probably harmful as a result of it might “damage the effectiveness of important public health messages.” Why? Because a smoker may assume “why bother quitting smoking if my cheese and ham sandwich is just as bad for me?”

This reminds me of a well-known Philip Morris cigarette ad that tried to downplay the risks of smoking by saying that if we expect second-hand smoke is dangerous, growing the danger of lung cancer 19 %, consuming one or two glasses of milk daily may be 3 times as dangerous with a 62 % greater danger of lung cancer. What’s extra, doubling the danger is steadily cooking with oil, tripling our danger of coronary heart disease is eating non-vegetarian, and multiplying our danger six-fold is eating plenty of meat and dairy. So, they conclude, “Let’s keep a sense of perspective.” The ad goes on to say that the danger of most cancers from second-hand smoke could also be “well below the risk reported…for many everyday items and activities.” So, breathe deep!

That’s like saying we shouldn’t worry about getting stabbed because getting shot is a lot worse. Or, if we don’t put on seatbelts, we’d as nicely have unprotected sex. If we go bungee jumping, we’d as properly disconnect our smoke alarms at house. Two risks don’t make a right.

Of course, you’ll word Philip Morris stopped throwing dairy underneath the bus once they bought Kraft Foods.


The IGF-1 story is so pivotal that it’s considered one of the first video collection I ever produced for NutritionFacts.org. I’m so glad I used to be capable of release this long-awaited replace. If you need a blast from the previous, watch the unique collection beginning with Engineering a Cure.

For extra parallels between the tobacco business and the food business, see:

What about the mobile phone business? Does Cell Phone Radiation Cause Cancer?

For more on healthy aging and longevity, see:

It’s necessary to notice the so-called low protein consumption is actually the beneficial protein consumption, which is associated with a serious discount in most cancers and general mortality in middle age, beneath age 65. But did you discover that it says not amongst older people? All of that is coated in my video Increasing Protein Intake After Age 65.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t but, you’ll be able to subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my reside, year-in-review shows:




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