As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States today I am grateful for all the knowledge I have gained this year in matters of health and wellness. I wish everyone celebrating a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you are spending it relaxed and with loving companions. It just so happened to be the monthly news day today so I thought I’d post anyway in case you’re after some light reading after a hearty meal.
As more and more evidence of the multifactorial causes of autism comes to light, focus has turned to early prevention of the disorder and working to turn things around for these children. A new study demonstrated how babies presented signs of autism as early as two months if they spent less time looking at people’s eyes (New York Times Blog). A doctor in Salisbury, North Carolina presented eight years of data demonstrating how she prevented any cases of autism in her practice (Salisbury Post). Mothers were encouraged to breastfeed for prevention by another study (Science Daily). More research emerged to help autistic children by changing their sleeping environments (Reuters) and digestive health (Futurity). And a connection was made between autism and dopamine, which can be affected by a gene mutation (Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative).
Genes Do What?
National Geographic discussed how trauma is handed down from one generation to the next through the germline while the Society For Neuroscience presented research showing how our experiences impact our genes, specifically in the areas of memory and addiction. The Washington Post explored the topic of “genopolitics,” which is not so much news but an interesting phenomenon where your genes influence your political opinions. And scientists discovered a gene mutation that not only causes one to be intolerant of the cold, but also to have immune deficiency and autoimmune/inflammatory skin disorders (NBC).
New Disease Research and Technology
A breakthrough technique called Crispr was unveiled, allowing scientists to make fine alterations to DNA without accidentally creating mutations or other damage (The Independent). Both obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette syndrome (TS) were determined to be highly heritable, meaning that the disorders are caused mostly by genetic differences (Psych Central). Two new studies tied fibromyalgia very closely to thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus disorders (The Washington Times).
Patients were outraged when the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cracked down on personal genomics company 23andMe, demanding compliance by mid-December. The issues here are complex with some geneticists and medical professionals siding with the FDA (Venture Beat). Many are speculating over why this is happening, with a large number believing that the FDA should stay out of it, perhaps focusing instead on cleaning up their own house. A study recently found that the government agency was approving drugs too quickly without adequate testing (National Pain Report). While data from even gene studies is rarely as clear as we might hope (Slate), it is my belief that we have a right to our personal information, DNA being a very important part of that. Finally, I think it’s really sad that the Cleveland Clinic would publish this irresponsible article, especially given the emerging information that we have about MTHFR being about more than just high homocysteine. As usual, the current medical establishment is short on prevention, long on cure (their expensive and sometimes toxic cures).
Did I miss any important news this month? Please feel free to leave the link in the comments below or to leave your thoughts on any of the items above.