24 June 2008

A healthy lifestyle protects against cancer by changing the activity of genes

It's no secret that a healthy lifestyle slows down the development of malignant neoplasms, but the underlying mechanisms of this effect have long remained a mystery. Scientists at the University of California (San Francisco), working under the guidance of Dr. Dean Ornish, have received evidence that diet and physical activity ensure the activation and inactivation of genes critical for this process.

The authors analyzed prostate tissue samples obtained by biopsy from 30 men with the initial stages of prostate cancer before the study and after 3 months of following a healthy diet, moderate physical activity, stress management and psychotherapy. It turned out that a healthy lifestyle significantly changes the expression of hundreds of genes. The activity of a large number of genes, including several involved in the formation of tumors, decreases, while the work of other genes, including several involved in the fight against various diseases, is noticeably activated.

In an earlier paper (2005), the authors demonstrated that a healthy lifestyle leads to a decrease in the levels of certain markers of prostate cancer, which may slow down the development of the disease. The latest work sheds light on the genetic mechanisms underlying this effect.

Given that the scientists studied samples of healthy tissue (the patients' tumors were so small that it was impossible to obtain a biopsy of the tumor tissue), the results obtained are of great importance for cancer prevention.

Moreover, the authors believe that the discovery has a wider application, because, for example, two genes known to be associated with the development of malignant neoplasms, RAN and Shoc2, whose expression decreased with a healthy lifestyle, are characteristic of most types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer.

To date, it is still too early to draw definitive causal conclusions and it is necessary to conduct long-term studies to find out whether a change in gene expression really slows down or prevents the development of tumors. However, the authors believe that their results are extremely important and will launch a new wave of research.

Portal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of NewScientist


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