"People say, 'Oh, it's all in my genes, what can I do?' That's what I call genetic nihilism."I've seen this. People throw up their hands and credit their particular ailment to genes. They say it doesn't matter what they do, that genes rule fate.
"Genes may be our predisposition, but they are not our fate."Of course genes are at the root of illness; they're at the root of life! But how they get expressed depends on their environment, which depends in large part on diet.
Ornish's quotes above accompanied a study he authored in 2008 which found that:2
"... the activity of more than 500 genes in the normal tissue of 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer changed after the patients began exercising regularly and eating diets heavy in fruit, veggies and whole grain (supplemented with soy, fish oil, the mineral selenium and vitamins C and E) and low in red meat and fats. ... [The men also] walked or worked out at least 30 minutes six days a week; did an hour of daily stress-reducing yoga-type stretching, breathing and meditation; and participated in one-hour weekly group support sessions."Just this morning another study was published adding weight to Ornish's claim:
The Effect of Chromosome 9p21 Variants on Cardiovascular Disease May Be Modified by Dietary Intake: Evidence from a Case/Control and a Prospective Study, PLoS Medicine, October 2011
"An international team ... sequenced bits of the DNA of 8114 participants in the global multiethnic INTERHEART study. ... In addition, the study participants (Europeans, South Asians, Chinese, Latin Americans, and Arabs) were asked about their dietary habits.The study concluded:
The researchers confirmed that certain variants in these 4 SNPs were associated with a substantially increased risk of heart attack. Further analysis revealed that the type of diet study participants consumed was associated with this risk. They found that having a risky genetic variant was strongly associated with heart attack in the group with the lowest “prudent diet” scores—meaning they consumed low amounts of fruits and vegetables; risk of heart attack also was elevated, but to a lesser extent, in those with more moderate consumption of these foods. In contrast, those with risky genetic variants who had the highest “prudent diet” scores (meaning they consumed high amounts of fruits and vegetables) had a protective effect against heart attack.
The researchers also analyzed data from the prospective FINRISK study of 19 129 individuals in Finland, and found a similar association between the gene variant and dietary habits."
- Healthy Eating May Help Blunt Effects of Genes That Increase Heart Attack Risk, news@JAMA, October 11, 2011
"The risk of [heart attack] and [cardiovascular disease] conferred by Chromosome 9p21 SNPs appears to be modified by a prudent diet high in raw vegetables and fruits."Related post: It's Genetic, There's Nothing I Can Do
1 Can Lifestyle Changes Bring Out The Best In Genes? New Research Shows Diet And Exercise May Change How Genes Act, Scientific American, June 2008
2 Changes In Prostate Gene Expression In Men Undergoing An Intensive Nutrition And Lifestyle Intervention, PNAS, June 2008