Home Nutrition Food Dialing Down the Grim Reaper Gene

Dialing Down the Grim Reaper Gene

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Only about 1 in 10,000 individuals dwell to be a 100 years outdated. What’s their secret? I talk about this in my video Animal Protein Compared to Cigarette Smoking.

In 1993, a significant breakthrough in longevity analysis was revealed a few single genetic mutation that doubled the lifespan of a tiny roundworm. Instead of all worms being useless by 30 days, the mutants lived 60 days or longer. This lifespan extension was “the largest yet reported in any organism.” This methuselah worm, a “medical marvel,” is “the equivalent of a healthy 200-year-old human.” All due to a single mutation? That shouldn’t occur. Presumably, ageing is brought on by a number of processes, affected by many genes. How may knocking out a single gene double lifespan?

What is that this ageing gene—a gene that so accelerates ageing that if it’s knocked out, the animals dwell twice as lengthy? It’s been referred to as the Grim Reaper gene and is the worm equal of the human insulin-like progress issue 1 (IGF-1) receptor. Mutations of that very same receptor in people could assist clarify why some individuals dwell to be 100 and different individuals don’t.

So, is it simply the luck of the draw whether or not we obtained good genes or dangerous ones? No, we are able to activate and off the expression of those genes, relying on what we eat. Years in the past I profiled a exceptional collection of experiments about IGF-1, a cancer-promoting progress hormone launched in extra quantities by our liver after we eat animal protein. Men and ladies who don’t eat meat, egg white, or dairy proteins have considerably decrease ranges of IGF-1 circulating inside their our bodies, and switching individuals to a plant-based weight loss plan can considerably decrease IGF-1 ranges inside simply 11 days, markedly bettering the potential of ladies’s bloodstreams to suppress breast most cancers cell progress after which kill off breast most cancers cells.

Similarly, the blood serum of males on a plant-based weight loss plan suppresses prostate most cancers cell progress about eight instances higher than earlier than they modified their weight loss plan. However, this dramatic enchancment in most cancers defenses is abolished if simply the quantity of IGF-1 banished from their programs because of eating and residing more healthy is added again. This is one strategy to clarify the low charges of most cancers amongst plant-based populations: The drop in animal protein consumption results in a drop in IGF-1, which in flip results in a drop in most cancers progress. The impact is so highly effective that Dr. Dean Ornish and colleagues appeared to have the ability to reverse the development of early-stage prostate most cancers with out chemotherapy, surgical procedure, or radiation—only a plant-based weight loss plan and way of life program.

When we’re youngsters, we’d like progress hormones to develop. There’s a uncommon genetic defect that causes extreme IGF-1 deficiency, resulting in a kind of dwarfism. It additionally apparently makes you successfully cancer-proof. A examine reported not a single dying from most cancers in about 100 people with IGF-1 deficiency. What about 200 people? None developed most cancers. Most malignant tumors are coated in IGF-1 receptors, but when there’s no IGF-1 round, they might not be capable of develop and unfold.

This could assist clarify why lives seem like lower quick by eating low-carb diets. It’s not simply any low-carb weight loss plan, although. Specifically, low-carb diets based mostly on animal sources seem like the downside, whereas vegetable-based low-carb diets have been related to a decrease danger of dying. But low-carb diets are excessive in animal fats in addition to animal protein, so how do we all know the saturated animal fats wasn’t killing off individuals and it had nothing to do with the protein? What we’d like is a examine that follows just a few thousand individuals and their protein intakes for 20 years or so, and sees who lives longest, who will get most cancers, and who doesn’t. But, there had by no means been a examine like that…till now.

Six thousand women and men over age 50 from throughout the United States have been adopted for 18 years, and people beneath age 65 with excessive protein intakes had a 75 p.c enhance in general mortality and a fourfold enhance in the danger of dying from most cancers. Does it matter what kind of protein? Yes. “These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived,” which is smart given the greater IGF-1 ranges in these eating extra protein.

The sponsoring college despatched out a press launch with a memorable opening line: “That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette.” It defined that “eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet—a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.” And once they say “low-protein diet,” what they really imply is getting the advisable quantity of protein.

“Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancer cell in them at some point. The question is: Does it progress?” stated one among the lead researchers. That could depend upon what we eat.

“[T]he question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days,” a researcher famous, “but can it help you survive to be 100?” Excessive protein consumption isn’t solely “linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources…are also more susceptible to early death in general.” Crucially, the similar didn’t apply to plant proteins like beans, and it wasn’t the fats; the animal protein seemed to be the wrongdoer.

What was the response to the revelation that diets excessive in meat, eggs, and dairy could possibly be as dangerous to health as smoking? One nutrition scientist replied that it was doubtlessly harmful as a result of it may “damage the effectiveness of important public health messages.” Why? Because a smoker would possibly assume “why bother quitting smoking if my cheese and ham sandwich is just as bad for me?”

This jogs my memory of a well-known Philip Morris cigarette advert that attempted to downplay the dangers of smoking by saying that if we predict second-hand smoke is dangerous, growing the danger of lung most cancers 19 p.c, consuming one or two glasses of milk day-after-day could also be 3 times as dangerous with a 62 p.c greater danger of lung most cancers. What’s extra, doubling the danger is ceaselessly cooking with oil, tripling our danger of coronary heart illness is eating non-vegetarian, and multiplying our danger six-fold is eating a number of meat and dairy. So, they conclude, “Let’s keep a sense of perspective.” The advert goes on to say that the danger of most cancers from second-hand smoke could also be “well below the risk reported…for many everyday items and activities.” So, breathe deep!

That’s like saying we shouldn’t fear about getting stabbed as a result of getting shot is a lot worse. Or, if we don’t put on seatbelts, we’d as properly have unprotected intercourse. If we go bungee leaping, we’d as properly disconnect our smoke alarms at residence. Two dangers don’t make a proper.

Of course, you’ll notice Philip Morris stopped throwing dairy beneath the bus as soon as they bought Kraft Foods.


The IGF-1 story is so pivotal that it’s one among the first video collection I ever produced for NutritionFacts.org. I’m so glad I used to be in a position to launch this long-awaited replace. If you desire a blast from the previous, watch the unique collection beginning with Engineering a Cure.

For extra parallels between the tobacco business and the food business, see:

What about the cell phone business? Does Cell Phone Radiation Cause Cancer?

For extra on healthy ageing and longevity, see:

It’s essential to notice the so-called low protein consumption is definitely the advisable protein consumption, which is related to a significant discount in most cancers and general mortality in center age, beneath age 65. But did you discover that it says not amongst older people? All of that is coated in my video Increasing Protein Intake After Age 65.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t but, you’ll be able to subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my dwell, year-in-review displays:

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