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Soda is bad right? It can also cause depression?

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Y from the Yahoo logo

Y from the Yahoo logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shine from Yahoo ran an article on sodas causing depression, http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/sweet-sodas-soft-drinks-may-raise-risk-depression-183000091.html . They say a new study of more than 260,000 people links soda consumption to depression. Is it any wonder there are more and more cases of depression in our young? Soda consumption is way up from when I was a kid and so is depression related diseases. The study showed 4 or more servings of soda a day lead to a 30% greater risk of depression.

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Epigenetics Velocity

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Epigenetics

Epigenetics (Photo credit: AJC1)

My background was physics. In physics we know that distance over time is velocity or speed. A relatively new area of biology is looking at epigenetics over time. Epigenetics is far more complex than genetics and it is changing over time. A current belief is that illnesses may be caused by long-term patterns in epigenetic changes. Researchers are using Guthrie Cards to sample an individual’s blood at birth and then several times during their lives. These samples will show not only genetics (which is stable) but epigenetics (which is changing). They can look at long-term change patterns and how they relate to diseases. We know a lot about genes that are associated with particular illnesses. By looking at how the epigenetics associated with these genes change over time we can find patterns in the epigenetics. The real problem starts here, we now have to associate environmental changes with the epigenetic changes to determine which parts of our environment is causing which illnesses.

Epigenetics is far more important than Genetics

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Epigenetic mechanisms

Epigenetic mechanisms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wikipedia says about epigenetics, “In 2008, the National Institutes of Health announced that $190 million had been earmarked for epigenetics research over the next five years. In announcing the funding, government officials noted that epigenetics has the potential to explain mechanisms of aging, human development, and the origins of cancer, heart disease, mental illness, as well as several other conditions. Some investigators, like Randy Jirtle, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center, think epigenetics may ultimately turn out to have a greater role in disease than genetics.” It is clear that epigenetics will play a major role in human health and development. Like computers software is worth far more than hardware. You can do an infinite amount of different programs utilizing the same hardware.

Population Health

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National Institutes of Health

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According to the National Institutes of Health, about half of all health problems are caused by behavior, such as smoking, excess drinking, and poor diet. The majority of the rest are caused by problems in the environment, such as pollution and unsafe working conditions. All these are preventable. A growing number of healthcare professionals around the world see changing the behavior of populations (as Americans changed their smoking habits), and cleaning up the environment as a highly effective use of healthcare funds. One expression of this is the rapid growth of the WHO’s “Healthy Cities” movement. Spending money on this has promise of reducing the overall healthcare cost before it’s too late.