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:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-27-2014
Soda consumption may shorten your life. Sensationalist title? It certainly is. However, while there have been many studies demonstrating that a sugar-rich diet is harmful to your health, a unique study out of UCSF has actually measured a correlation between sugary soda consumption and shortened telomere length. When considered in conjunction with findings from other lab that have shown short telomeres to be associated with the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer, the story becomes much more worrisome.
According to the study’s principal investigator, Elissa Epel
This is the first demonstration that soda is associated with telomere shortness.This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset. Further, although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.
Based on the way telomere length shortens on average with chronological age, the UCSF researchers calculated that daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda was associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. This effect on telomere length is comparable to the effect of smoking, or to the effect of regular exercise in the opposite, anti-aging direction.
Long segments of RNA—encoded in our DNA but not translated into protein—are key to physically manipulating DNA in order to activate certain genes. These non-coding RNA-activators (ncRNA-a) have a crucial role in turning genes on and off during early embryonic development, researchers say, and have also been connected with diseases, including some cancers, in adults.
In an online article of the journal Nature, a team of scientists led by Wistar’s Ramin Shiekhattar, Ph.D., detail the mechanism by which long non-coding RNA-activators promote gene expression. They show how these RNA molecules help proteins in the cell to create a loop of DNA in order to open up genes for transcription. Their experiments have also described how particular ncRNA-a molecules are related to FG syndrome, a genetic disease linked to severe neurological and physical deficits.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-30-2010
As the year comes to a close, I would like to draw your attention to an inspirational article published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. The article pays tribute to an icon of modern day science whose name graces the blackboards (do they even use those anymore these days?) of pretty much all first year genetic classrooms across the nation.
James Watson, the man who discovered the DNA double helix, continues to inspire us with his firm belief that cancer can be conquered in his lifetime. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Although Dr. Watson says leaders should think in the long term, he is critical of those who say we might find a cure for cancer in another 10 to 20 years. “If you say we can get somewhere in 10 to 20 years, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be saying 20 to 40, except then people would just give up hope. So 10 to 20 still maintains hope, but why not five to 10?” He adds that there’s no reason we shouldn’t know all of the genetic causes of major cancers in another few years.
In the article, Watson maintains that bureaucracy and red tape, not scientific technology, are the main obstacles to finding a cure.