“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.”
I ran across an interesting post today on the Scientific Blogging site, which acts to rekindle the question (debate?) of genetics as destiny. Specifically here, the identification of a genetic variation that seems to impair the ability of the body’s muscle cells to use insulin to help them make energy.
The post in question is a summation of an article published in Nature Genetics titled, “A multistage genome-wide association study detects a new risk locus near IRS1 for type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia” (6 September, 2009).
This is highly interesting stuff, no doubt — however, it does beg the question of environmental influence. In other words what is the environmental impact of diet type and fitness level on the expression of this genetic variant?
Case in point: Chris, of the wonderful blog Conditioning Research, recently highlighted Michelle’s story of surmounting diabetes with no more than the intelligence and wherewithal to adhere to a strict Paleo lifestyle. In Michelle’s case, I suspect that she was wrongly diagnosed as being a Type I diabetic — an increasingly common mistake as the incidence of “adult onset” diabetes increases among the young (Michelle is 21). That’s mere hair-splitting, though, with the real story being Michelle’s new-found health as a result of her adherence to the Paleo lifestyle. Check out Michelle’s testimonial, here, at her blog. And please encourage her to continue keeping us informed of her progress.
Remember, genes are not destiny, they are merely signposts. Environmental influence counts for much in the ultimate genetic expression.
And speaking of environmental influence, I’d like to point out this little tid-bit, as highlighted in the Scientific Blogging post:
Professor Philippe Froguel, one of the corresponding authors of today’s study from the Department of Genomic Medicine at Imperial College London, said, “We are very excited about these results – this is the first genetic evidence that a defect in the way insulin works in muscles can contribute to diabetes. Muscle tissue needs to make more energy using glucose than other tissues. We think developing a treatment for diabetes that improves the way insulin works in the muscle could really help people with type 2 diabetes.
“It is now clear that several drugs should be used together to control this disease. Our new study provides scientists developing treatments with a straightforward target for a new drug to treat type 2 diabetes,” added Froguel. (emphasis mine).
Ugh! I guess we should have seen that one coming, huh? Now, I’m certainly not a Luddite when it comes to pharmacological intervention, but how about let’s promote Michelle’s method first and foremost, then proceed from there, if even necessary at that point, via the pharmaceutical route?
Unfortunately, we already know that answer. It’s not about health, folks, — it’s about profits.