Will your grandmother’s diet increase your risk of colon cancer?

Will a multi-generational exposure to a western type diet increase offspring’s chance of developing colon cancer? Will cancer-fighting agents, like green tea, help combat that increased risk?Those are the two questions Abby Benninghoff, an assistant professor in Utah State University’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, will attempt to answer thanks to a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”Simply put, if your grandmother ate a poor diet, will green tea be beneficial for you or not,” Benninghoff said.Benninghoff and her two collaborators, Korry Hintze and Robert Ward, both associate professors of nutrition, dietetics and food sciences, have developed a diet that mimics typical U.S. nutrition for studies of human cancer using animal models. In this case, rodents with cancer will be studied, which will allow Benninghoff to look at the effects of the diet on multiple generations in a short period of time.Benninghoff, predicts that green tea will have a greater benefit to those mice that are exposed to the western diet than those on a healthy diet. She also believes that the more generations exposed to the western diet, the greater the risk of colon cancer in the offspring.”In the end, what we’re hoping is to be able to determine if there are certain populations that would benefit from a diet modification, an increase consumption of green tea,” Benninghoff said. She also hopes the consequences of this diet will be better understood for the benefit of future generations.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Utah State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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A maternal junk food diet alters development of opioid pathway in the offspring

July 30, 2013 — Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, shows that eating a junk-food diet during pregnancy changes the development of the opioid signalling pathway in the baby’s brain and permanently alters the way this system operates after birth.Share This:Opioids are chemicals which are released when we eat foods that are high in fat and sugar, and that are responsible for causing the release of another ‘feel good’ chemical, dopamine. The researchers found that the gene encoding one of the key endogenous opioids, enkephalin, was expressed at a higher level in the offspring of mothers who had consumed a junk food diet than in the offspring of mothers who ate standard rat feed. This increase in enkephalin, together with previous work done by this research group which showed that an opioid receptor blocker was less effective at reducing fat and sugar intake in the pups of the junk-food fed mothers, provides evidence for the first time that the opioid signalling pathway is less sensitive in junk-food exposed offspring.Being less sensitive to opioids means that individuals whose mothers eat excessive quantities of junk-food during pregnancy and breastfeeding, would have to eat more junk foods get the same ‘feel good’ response, and this would make them more likely to over consume these high-fat, high-sugar foods. Jessica Gugusheff from the FoodPlus research centre at the University of Adelaide, the graduate student leading this research, says that “the results of this studywill eventually permit us to better inform pregnant women about the enduring effect their diet has on the development of their child’s lifelong food preferences and risk of negative metabolic outcomes.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats: APA MLA Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

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Exposure to stress even before conception causes genetic changes to offspring

July 8, 2013 — A female’s exposure to distress even before she conceives causes changes in the expression of a gene linked to the stress mechanism in the body — in the ovum and later in the brains of the offspring from when they are born, according to a new study on rats conducted by the University of Haifa.”The systemic similarity in many instances between us and mice raises questions about the transgenerational influences in humans as well, for example, the effects of the Second Lebanon War or the security situation in the South on the children of those who went through those difficult experiences,” the researchers said. “If until now we saw evidence only of behavioral effects, now we’ve found proof of effects at the genetic level.”In previous studies in Prof. Micah Leshem’s lab, it was found that exposing rats to stress before they had even conceived (and even at their “teen” stage) influences the behavior of their offspring. This study, conducted in the lab of Dr. Inna Gaisler-Salomon by PhD student Hiba Zaidan, in cooperation with Prof. Leshem, the researchers sought to examine whether there was an influence on genetic expression.In the study, which was recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the researchers focused on the gene known as CRF-1, a gene linked to the body’s stress-control system that expresses itself in many places in the brain under stress.The researchers took female rats that were 45 days old, which is parallel to human adolescence. Some of the rats were exposed to “minor” stress, which included changes in temperature and daily routine for seven days, and compared them to a control group that was not exposed to stress at all. The rats were mated and conceived two weeks later.In the first part of the study, the researchers examined the ova of the rats that were exposed to stress even before they conceived, and they found that at that stage there was enhanced expression of the CRF-1 gene. For the second part, the researchers examined the brains of newborn rats immediately after birth, before the mother could have any influence on them, and found that even at the neonatal stage, there was enhanced expression of the CRF-1 gene in the brains of the rats born to mothers who had been exposed to stress.During the third stage, the researchers exposed the offspring — both those whose mothers had been exposed to stress and those whose mothers were not — to stress when they reached adulthood. It emerged that the expression of CRF-1 among the offspring was dependent on three factors: The sex of the offspring, the stress undergone by the mother and the stress to which the offspring were exposed. …

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Personality is the result of nurture, not nature, suggests study on birds

June 5, 2013 — Personality is not inherited from birth parents says new research on zebra finches.External factors are likely to play a bigger part in developing the personality of an individual than the genes it inherits from its parents, suggests the study.Researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Hamburg investigated how personality is transferred between generations. They found that foster parents have a greater influence on the personalities of fostered offspring than the genes inherited from birth parents.Dr Nick Royle from Biosciences at the University of Exeter said: “This is one of the first experiments to show that behaviour can be non-genetically transmitted from parents to offspring. Our study shows that in zebra finches, personality traits can be transmitted from one generation to another through behaviour not just genetics.”The research, published in the journal Biology Letters, measured personality by placing the zebra finches in a new environment and counting the number of features they visited. Some were shy, staying mainly in one place while others explored widely demonstrating a more outgoing personality. Male and female birds were then paired up and allowed to breed. Each clutch of eggs was fostered by another pair just prior to hatching. Offspring personality was measured once they were adults. Offspring size was also measured and was found to be primarily genetically inherited and not significantly influenced by foster parent size.Although this study considers personality inheritance in zebra finches, it raises questions about the inheritance of personality in other species, including humans. Do adopted children inherit the personality characteristics of their birth parents or their adoptive parents? Is the environment more important than genetic inheritance in the development of personality?The results of this study indicate that non-genetic transmission of behaviour can play an important role in shaping animal personality. …

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