I was updating my talk recently and decided as part of my talk that I would discuss this issue of genetics vs environment with the gene for breast cancer. So I was researching and found quite a few articles on young women removing their breasts because they had been told that they had the gene for breast cancer.
I knew of an older lady that did this but I was unaware until recently that this was an operation being performed to stop breast cancer in young girls who have been tested for the “gene”. I decided to post it on my Changing Habits facebook page, the response was enormous and the views were polarised with regards to the practice of removing breasts to prevent breast cancer.
Epigenetics and nutrigenetics have been talked about for the last 10 years or so, yet they do not get a lot of airplay as the gene hunters for all diseases are out in force and genes have now become the scapegoat/cause for many diseases including lifestyle diseases. And for me the words lifestyle and gene in one sentence is a definite oxymoron.
In brief epigenetics and nutrigenetics is about toxicity and deficiency acting on the gene in order for it to express. If the gene is present then yes it is the loaded gun, but it has to be “triggered” by a deficiency or toxicity. Without the trigger it will not express. Our genes determine our species of being human our lifestyle choices and habits determine our health and quality of life. Having said that there are approximately 5% of the population that have genetic disorders that are expressed as is the case with haemophilia.
We are genetically around 20,000 + years old. There has not been any significant gene mutations that have changed the species type, in quite a long time. Science began the genome project and now there is a race to find the gene for every disease, there is even the gene for obesity.
The research conducted on the Agouti mice tells another story. The agouti mouse is genetically manipulated to have yellow fur, get very fat, develop diabetes and cancer then die an early death. These mice are patented and prized mice in the research of obesity, cancer and diabetes. Researchers are looking for a cure to these three diseases, drugs, operations, chemo, radiation are all used in order to cure the agouti mouse but nothing seems to work long term.
One day, one bright spark of a scientist decided to change the diet of the agouti mouse. When the diet changed the agouti mouse did not get fat, nor diabetes, nor cancer and did not die an early death. What was more stunning is that the offsprings of the agouti mouse that had the diet changed actually changed its genetically manipulated fur colour from yellow to brown, it also did not develop the diseases it was genetically manipulated to get. Wow that to me is stunning research, basically what it says is that your lifestyle and diet has the potential to change your genetic potential for lifestyle diseases, such as cancer, obesity and diabetes.
The input to my enquiry regarding the removal of breast to prevent breast cancer has really cemented what I already know. That there are two paradigms to health. There is the belief that we are doomed from the day we are born by our genes, so why would you bother changing your environment or diet (physically, mentally, emotionally and chemically) And this is how our health system runs today. We are looked after with props; from drugs to injections and surgery, as the belief is that diet and environment can do nothing for your health so the responsibility of your doctor is to keep you alive with props. If you doubt me ask your doctor next time you visit him if he thinks that diet will make any difference to your condition.
The other paradigm believes that we have total responsibility for our health outcome. The belief is that the body has an innate ability to be healthy and when it gets sick it is what we call a health crisis. The signals you get when you’re sick are telling you and signaling you that things are not right and you have a window of time in order to fix the problem by changing your environment or diet. It is an adaption to a stress which could be physical, chemical or emotional.
So you either change your environment and diet and move away from the stress or you take a medication, remove a body part and stop the bodies signal that something is wrong. If you choose medication or other, the window retreats and a new stress, environment, deficiency shows up until you realise 10 years on that you are on a concoction of medications and you are physically, mentally and emotionally an absolute wreck.
These paradigms cannot exist together for one person, and this is so painfully clear by the comments to my enquiry about the removal of breasts. Some were emphatic that they are doomed with the gene in their body and the removal of breasts is the educated and only answer. Others believe that it is the environment and that as long as they look after themselves then the gene will not express for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia and other modern lifestyle diseases.
For those who have removed their breasts or thinking about it I’m sure you have considered that the BRCA1 and BRCA2 indicate an increase in risk of breast cancer (it is not a 100% predictor) as well as other cancers. How can you be sure that the cancer will go to the breast and not another part of your body. And if only between 5 and 10% are effected by abnormal genes what causes the rest of the breast cancer, could it be environment, diet, the pill, HRT, IVF hormones, hormone disruptors in food and plastics, synthetic vitamins, industrialised foods, modified foods and so on.
With current research we now know that type 1 diabetes is not a genetic disorder it is an autoimmune disease triggered by a virus, but why does it affect some people. They say there is a gene for the disease but it has to be triggered. There are people who have the trigger, which for example the roto virus, and the gene but don’t get type 1 diabetes. Sometimes it can be how strong your immune system is at the time to how well it can fight – for more information read my report on Diabetes, it is available free this month – go to the top of the website and follow the links.
How far will we go with this genetic belief in health?
So if a man was told he had the gene for testicular cancer, would he have his testicles removed? If you know you have the gene for bowel cancer or chrons disease, would you have your bowel removed? If you had the gene for heart disease do we remove the heart? What about the gene for obesity? If you have the gene for diabetes what do you remove? How about the gene for Alzheimer’s and dementia – remove the brain? I’m sorry but the ludicracy of this concept has to be really thought long and hard about. I’m not being funny here I really want to know how far do we go?
Because of my absolute faith in my body and as long as I feed it the right foods and keep my environment as clean as I can I have no wish to remove my breasts nor any other body part. I have a horrendous genetic back ground (if you believe it is your genes that predict your health outcome) In just 2 generations the following have occurred; type 1 diabetes (cousin), haemophilia (6 uncles, one cousin), HIV and AIDS (9 family members) schizophrenia (2 cousins), Von Willibrands disease (me), CRESTS (sister), lung cancer (mother), oesophageal cancer (sister and aunt), dysphagia (cousin), liver disfunction (aunt), surely if anyone should have everything removed it would be me. It has never even entered my brain that any of my family have anything to do with my health. I have total control by eating only real foods, avoiding chemicals in my home environment, meditating, positive thoughts and actions and exercise. If I die of a horrendous disease then its my fault not my genes.
I have no illusions that my way is full proof as it is not, but it is the way I choose, just as the women who have removed their breast have chosen (not lightly) their way. Both should be respected but both of us shake our heads at the others paradigm of health. I can see that very plainly by all the 112 comments on the Changing Habits Facebook page.