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WHAT ABOUT GENES, GERMS & OLD AGE?

GENES: A study published in the journal Nature in 2003 reported that newborn Agouti mice used in research have a gene that makes them susceptible to disease, obesity and abnormal fur colour. These effects were completely reversed by improving the diet of their mother without mutating the offspring’s genes.

Another study published in Pharmaceutical Research in 2008 concluded 90% of cancers are caused by lifestyle. The chronic illnesses of populations who migrate from one country to another are determined by the country they migrate to, not from. The health identical twins also are predominantly affected by their environment, not by their genetic makeup.

Scientists at The New Zealand Magellan Institute in 2014 declared that an immune system functioning at optimum levels sends cells out in the body hunting for invaders. The kill rate for cancel cells is 100%, which no drug can match.

A study published in the journal Nature in 2015 again showed that the cancer incidence of populations were mostly affected by environment and lifestyle with little effect from genes. The study concluded up to 90% of cancers are not caused by genetics.

Scientists at Auckland University’s Medical & Health Sciences facility in 2017 found there was no clear difference between breast tumours found in New Zealand patients and overseas patients, suggesting that environmental (lifestyle) factors are behind New Zealand’s high breast cancer rate.

These studies illustrate what the new science of epigenetics is now telling usgene expression is overridden by lifestyle choices. We are not at the mercy of Adam & Eve just because of the genes we inherit. I recall the case of a baby daughter of a NZ chiropractor and a nurse years ago, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The diagnosis was confirmed by the doctor in charge of the Plunket Society. This condition is considered genetic, and the prognosis is generally a short life. The child was discharged into the care of the parents, grew to adulthood and became a nurse and the mother of four children.

GERMS: Why do so many of us grossly underestimate how good our bodies are at restoring our health at any age? I recall reading in a textbook of Internal Medicine in my training days in the 1970s, that at any given moment, 75% of us harbour enough pneumonia bugs to kill an army. But we live on if our immune systems are functioning normally. If we want to have quality of life in old age, it’s never the wrong time to lead a healthy lifestyle. It is vital we do our homework on how to do this.