Vaccines and Production of Negative Genetic Changes in Humans
(c) 1996-1998 Leading Edge Research Group
Vaccination and Genetic Change: Mobility of Genetic Material Between
One of the indications that vaccinations may in fact be changing the genetic structure of humans became evident in September of 1971, when scientists at the University of Geneva made the discovery that biological substances entering directly into the bloodstream could become part of human genetic structure. Originally, Japanese bacteriologists discovered that bacteria of one species transferred their own specific antibiotic resistance to bacteria of an entirely different species. Dr. Maurice Stroun and Dr. Philip Anker in the Department of Plant Physiology at the University of Geneva, began to accumulate evidence that the transfer of genetic information is not confined to bacteria, but can also occur between bacteria and higher plants and animals. According to an article in World Medicine on September 22, 1971, "Geneva scientists are convinced that normal animal and plant cells shed DNA, and that this DNA is taken up by other cells in the organism."
In one experiment, scientists in Geneva extracted the auricles of frog hearts and dipped them for several hours in a suspension of bacteria. Afterward, they found a high percentage of RNA-DNA hybridization between bacterial DNA extracted from bacteria of the same species as that used in the experiment and titrated DNA extracted from the auricles which had been dipped in the bacterial suspension. Bacterial DNA had been absorbed by the animal cells. This phenomenon has been dubbed transcession. There is evidence that this kind of phenomenon is happening all the time within the human body. It is conceivable, for example, that heart damage following rheumatic fever could the the result of the immune system reacting to its own cells producing a foreign RNA complex after absorption of foreign DNA.
In Science magazine, November 10, 1972, bacterial RNA was demonstrated in frog brain cells after a bacterial peritoneal infection. In the April 1973 issue of the Journal of Bacteriology, transcription of spontaneously released bacterial DNA was found to be incorporated into cellular nuclei of frog auricles. Studies by Phillipe Anker and Maurice Stroun have indicated spontaneous release of DNA material from mammalian cells, spontaneous transfer of DNA from bacteria to higher organisms, spontaneous transfer of DNA between cells of higher organisms, release of RNA by mammalian cells, and biological activity of released complexes containing RNA.
Malignant Cellular Transformations Caused By Foreign DNA:
There is evidence that freely circulating foreign DNA can cause malignancy. In a 1977 issue of International Review of Cytology, Volume 51, Anker and Stroun discuss the possible effects of foreign DNA causing malignant cell transformations. When foreign DNA is transcribed into a cell of a different organism, "this general biological event is related to the uptake by cells of spontaneously released bacterial DNA, thus suggesting the existence of circulating DNA. In view of the malignant transformations obtained with DNA, the oncogenic (cancer-causing) role of circulating DNA is postulated."
The discovery in 1975 that viruses causing cancer in animals had a special enzyme called reverse transcriptase makes the problem even more interesting. These kind of viruses are called RNA viruses. When an RNA virus has the reverse transcriptase enzyme within its structure, it allows the virus to actually form strands of DNA which easily integrate with the DNA of the host cell which it infects. Studies by Dr. Robert Simpson of Rutgers University indicate that RNA viruses which do not cause cancer can also form DNA, even without the presence of reverse transcriptase. DNA formed in this way from an RNA virus is called a provirus. It is known that some non-cancerous viruses have a tendency to exist as proviruses for long periods of time in cells without causing any apparent disease. In other words, they remain latent. Some examples of common RNA viruses that do not cause cancer, per se, but have the capacity to form proviruses are influenza, measles, mumps and polio viruses. In the October 22, 1967 British Medical Journal, it was brought out by German scientists that multiple sclerosis seemed to be provoked by vaccinations against smallpox, typhoid, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis and diptheria. Even earlier, in 1965, Zintchenko reported 12 cases in which MS became evident after a course of anti-rabies vaccinations.
Remember that millions of people between 1950 and 1970 were injected with polio vaccines containing simian virus 40 (SV-40) transferred from contaminated monkey kidney cells used to culture the vaccine. It is impossible to remove animal viruses from vaccine cultures. You are reminded that SV-40, the 40th virus to be discovered in simian tissue, is a cancer-causing virus.
Immunization programs against influenza, measles, mumps and polio are in fact seeding humans with RNA and forming proviruses which become latent for long periods in throughout the body, only to re-awaken later on.
Post-polio syndrome is a good example of this problem. Other examples may include the so-called mesenchymal and collegen diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus erythmatosis, where antibodies are formed by the immune system against the person's own tissues - tissues which have been impregnated with foreign genetic material. According to a special issue of Postgraduate Medicine in May 1962, "although the body generally will not make antibodies against its own tissues, it appears that slight modification of the antigenic character of tissues may cause it to appear foreign to the immune system and thus a fair target for antibody production." Two years later in 1964, studies were conducted on the polyoma virus, a tumor-producing DNA virus. It was discovered that the persistent genetic DNA material in the polyoma virus brought about malignant transformations in hamster embryo cell cultures. This was reported in the November 23, 1964 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Even common non-tumor viruses, including those in smallpox vaccine and polio virus 2, can act as carcinogens. It was reported in Science on December 15, 1961 that these common viruses acted as catalysts in producing cancer when given to mice in combination with known organic carcinogens in amounts too small to induce tumors themselves. This means that some vaccinations will induce cancer, when combined with the growing problem of environmental pollution from toxic by-products of agriculture (pesticides on and in food) and industry. Of course, this information is hidden from the public, which is why the FDA, EPA and the agricultural industries can get away with "sanctioning" small amounts of pollutants in food, water and air. The connection has not been made public, much to the joy of the chemical industry, the National Cancer Institute and the growing cancer industry, which continues to fraudulently solicit public donations to justify its own existence. As an aside, it has already been admitted that polio vaccinations have caused 100% of all polio in the United States since 1980 and the predominant cases of all paralytic polio since 1972 (Science, April 4, 1977). It is suspected that the Salk and Sabin vaccines, made of monkey tissue culture, have also been responsible for the major increase in leukemia in the United States.
The use of viruses, bacteria and animal tissue cultures in mass immunization campaigns, considering that this information has been known for 20 years, constitutes an intentionally created hazard to humans. The global impact on the wide range of genotypes relative to human beings is difficult to assess, but the outcome is definitely negative, and permitting the seeding of latent proviruses in humans, knowingly, can have no other rationale other than future medical profiteering, and constitutes a criminal conspiracy of vast proportions which is tatamount to a genocidal policy against the population, further constituting crimes against humanity, which is internationally punishable by death. But, of course, especially in the United States, this fact is ignored and suppressed from public knowledge, despite a 1984 plea by some U.S. physicians to the United Nations in a report. The fact that this goes on with the full knowledge of the world medical community makes this an international conspiracy where the population has no recourse, given that vaccinations are becoming mandatory and a prerequisite for many social programs.
Persistence of long-term viruses and foreign proteins and their relationship to chronic and degenerative disease was also pointed out by Dr. Robert Simpson of Rutgers University in 1976, when he addressed science writers at an American Cancer Society seminar, saying "these proviruses could be molecules in search of a disease." Dr. Wendell Winters, a virologist at the University of California noted, "immunizations may cause changes in slow viruses and changes in the DNA mechanism." Although host cells containing latent viral particles operate more or less normally, they begin to synthesize viral proteins under the guidance of the viral DNA, eventually creating the circumstances for various autoimmune diseases, including diseases of the central nervous system, which unfortunately add to the growing load of aberrant social behavior patterns.
1: J Child Neurol. 2002 Sep;17(9):700-2.
Rett syndrome phenotype following infantile acute encephalopathy.
Fiumara A, Polizzi A, Mazzei R, Conforti L, Magariello A, Sorge G, Pavone L.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Catania, Italy.
Rett syndrome is a progressive neurodevelopmental disorder with a well-defined clinical spectrum and course. Recently, mutations in the gene encoding X-linked methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) have been identified as the cause of Rett syndrome. Along with the classic form, variant forms of Rett syndrome and Rett syndrome phenotypes are also recognized. We report on a girl who, at age 2 months, developed an acute encephalopathy with destructive brain damage 12 hours after acellular pertussis vaccination. Peripheral lymphocyte subset analysis revealed the existence of T lymphocytes double positive for CD4 and CD8 markers. This pattern normalized over the following 3 months. Months later, the girl manifested a Rett syndrome phenotype. DNA screening of the MECP2 gene was unrevealing in the child and her parents. This previously unreported association emphasizes the notion that Rett syndrome phenotypes can result from different (either genetic or environmental) causes.
PMID: 12503649 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
'Junk' throws up precious secret - DNA segments not coding for proteins shared by many animals including humans
What do you know.....it might not be junk??????
'Junk' throws up precious secret
By Julianna Kettlewell
BBC News Online science staff
A collection of mystery DNA segments, which seem to be critical for the survival of many animals, are causing great interest among scientists. Researchers inspecting the genetic code of rats, mice and humans were surprised to find they shared many identical chunks of apparently "junk"
This implies the code is so vital that even 75 million years of evolution in these mammals could not tinker with it. But what the DNA does, and how, is a puzzle, the journal Science reports.
Before scientists began laboriously mapping several animal life-codes, they had a rather narrow opinion about which parts of the genome were important. According to the traditional viewpoint, the really crucial things were genes, which code for proteins - the "building blocks of life". A few other sections that regulate gene function were also considered useful.
It absolutely knocked me off my chair
David Haussler, University of California
The rest was thought to be excess baggage - or "junk" DNA. But the new findings suggest this interpretation was somewhat wanting.
David Haussler of the University of California, Santa Cruz, US, and his team compared the genome sequences of man, mouse and rat. They found - to their astonishment - that several great stretches of DNA were identical across the three species.
To guard against this happening by coincidence, they looked for sequences that were at least 200 base-pairs (the molecules that make up DNA) in length. Statistically, a sequence of this length would almost never appear in all three by chance.
Not only did one sequence of this length appear in all three - 480 did.
The regions largely matched up with chicken, dog and fish sequences, too; but are absent from sea squirt and fruit flies. "It absolutely knocked me off my chair," said Professor Haussler. "It's extraordinarily exciting to think that there are these ultra-conserved elements that weren't noticed by the scientific community before."
DNA: THE CODE OF LIFE
The double-stranded DNA molecule is held together by chemical components called bases
Adenine (A) bonds with thymine (T); cytosine (C) bonds with guanine (G) These letters form the "code of life"; there are close to 3 billion base pairs in mammals such as humans and rodents Written in the DNA of these animals are 25,000-30,000 genes which cells use as templates to start the production of proteins; these sophisticated molecules build and maintain the body
The really interesting thing is that many of these "ultra-conserved" regions do not appear to code for protein. If it was not for the fact that they popped up in so many different species, they might have been dismissed as useless "padding". But whatever their function is, it is clearly of great importance. We know this because ever since rodents, humans, chickens and fish shared an ancestor - about 400 million years ago - these sequences have resisted change. This strongly suggests that any alteration would have damaged the animals' ability to survive.
"These initial findings tell us quite a lot of the genome was doing something important other than coding for proteins," Professor Haussler said. He thinks the most likely scenario is that they control the activity of indispensable genes and embryo development. Nearly a quarter of the sequences overlap with genes and may help slice RNA - the chemical cousin of DNA involved in protein production - into different forms, Professor Haussler believes. The conserved elements that do not actually overlap with genes tend to cluster next to genes that play a role in embryonic development.
"The fact that the conserved elements are hanging around the most important development genes, suggests they have some role in regulating the process of development and differentiation," said Professor Haussler. Rethinking "junk" DNA
The next step is to pin down a conclusive function for these chunks of genetic material. One method could be to produce genetically engineered mice that have bits of the sequences "knocked out". By comparing their development with that of normal mice, scientists might be able to work out the DNA's purpose. Despite all the questions that this research has raised, one thing is clear: scientists need to review their ideas about junk DNA.
Professor Chris Ponting, from the UK Medical Research Council's Functional Genetics Unit, told BBC News Online: "Amazingly, there were calls from some sections to only map the bits of genome that coded for protein - mapping the rest was thought to be a waste of time.
"It is very lucky that entire genomes were mapped, as this work is showing." He added: "I think other bits of 'junk' DNA will turn out not to be junk. I think this is the tip of the iceberg, and that there will be many more similar findings." Humans and rats share large amounts of DNA
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/05/12 13:56:24 GMT
Chemo More Dangerous Than Thought for Kids
THURSDAY, July 1 (HealthDayNews) -- Children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) who suffer genetic damage caused by chemotherapy may face an increased risk of further cancers and other diseases later in life. That bad news comes from a University of Vermont Medical School study published in the July 1 issue of Cancer Research.
The study found 45 children who received chemotherapy and survived their disease had a 200-fold increase in the frequency of somatic mutations in their DNA. These genetic changes remain embedded in the children's DNA. "The therapies used to assist these children overcome ALL have the potential to cause genetic damage to many different cell populations in their rapidly growing bodies," Dr. Barry A. Finette, an associate professor of pediatrics, said in a prepared statement.
"Because they have larger numbers of replicating cell populations during their growth and development stages than adults have, they are more susceptible than adults to the effects of the chemotherapies' genotoxicity," Finette said. ALL is the most common malignant cancer in children. Since the 1960s, the five-year survival rate in the United States for children with ALL has increased to nearly 80 percent, thanks to development of national standardized chemotherapy treatment guidelines.
"Because of the effectiveness of the treatment employed today, we are able to give many more children a chance for a long life without cancer," Finette said. "Our studies are aimed at enabling us to better understand further challenges that we may face in keeping these patients health as they get 10, 15, or more years out from overcoming ALL," he said.
The Nemours Foundation has more about childhood leukemia.
(SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, July 1, 2004)
Copyright © 2004 ScoutNews LLC. All rights reserved.
Zh Mikrobiol Epidemiol Immunobiol. 1975 Dec;(12):95-100. Related Articles,
[Connection between the group factors of the blood systems ABO, MNSs, and
rhesus and peculiarities of the vaccination process in children immunized against
[Article in Russian]
Lebedinskii AP, Sokhin AA, Frolov VK, Frolov AK, Lysakova VI.
The ahthors present new data on the character of the vaccine process in children associated with the characteristics of the blood group ABO, MNSs and Rh systems. The greater frequency of occurrence and more manifest reactions were noted in children with blood groups A, B, AB, M and Rho (D) - in comparison with those having blood groups O, Rho (D) +, MN and N. There was a significant prevalence of chromosomal aberrations in the primarily immunized children with blood groups A in comparison with groups O, B and AB. The data obtained pointed to the negative effect of the mimi-rating antigens of the smallpox virus on the immunogenesis in smallpox. Search for methods of releasing the vaccine of these antigens is necessary for reduction of the reactogenic properties and increase of immunogenecity of the smallpox vaccines.
PMID: 814753 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Vopr Virusol 1979 Sep-Oct;(5):547-50
Related Articles, Books
[Disorders in the murine chromosome apparatus induced by immunization with a complex of antiviral vaccines]
[Article in Russian]
Cherkeziia SE, Mikhailova GR, Gorshunova LP.
Immunization of mice with a number of live virus vaccines (polio vaccine, smallpox vaccine, measles vaccine) given consecutively at 14-day intervals resulted in increased frequency of chromosomal aberrations in bone marrow cells of the animals after the completion of the entire vaccination course (14 and 30 days after the last vaccination). Measles vaccine and, particularly, smallpox vaccine exert a significant harmful effect on the karyotype of the bone marrow cells. The effect on the chromosomes of the vaccines given consecutively differs somewhat from the individual effect of each of them.
PMID: 506209 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Vaccinations and Immunity
By Patrick Quanten MD
Dr. Urnovitz and his colleagues have been studying the implications of vaccines in cancer, Persian Gulf War Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. Urnovitz, who holds doctorates in Immunology and Microbiology from the University of Michigan where he studied vaccines, has become one of the most vocal proponents for scientists to become aware of vaccine-associated genetic mutations. His work in this area has supported the concepts that:
Our bodies have a “genetic memory” of foreign substances it encounters, including vaccines. There is a limit on how much foreign material our bodies can handle before genetic damage occurs and/or progresses into a chronic illness. Each person has their own unique genetic blueprint which responds to foreign substances differently. In a larger sense, the question about possible effects of vaccines in causing adverse genetic changes might be considered as the “black hole” of scientific knowledge. Even if it is taking place, do we have the technology to identify it, and if not, do we have the time to await the slow processes of science to prove such a relationship? Studies from Africa, England, Sweden, and New Zealand have consistently shown a greater incidence of allergic problems such as asthma and eczema, along with increasing patterns of sickness, among fully vaccinated children as compared to those with limited or no vaccines.
Some conclusions can already be drawn:
Vaccinations lower the immune response by weakening the outer defense system. Increasing the toxic load so dramatically in the inner workings of the immune system may be responsible for the surge in auto-immune diseases we are seeing. The increased toxic load is responsible for genetic modifications of the cells, leading to serious illnesses for which modern science is hoping to find "gene-cures". Vaccination of children with nutritional deficiencies (more likely in bottle-fed babies) will lead to serious damage to the chromosomes. We are all unique in our response to foreign substances such as vaccines and general use of these techniques will inevitably lead to individuals being damaged.
Certainly the disease (smallpox) has diminished. But the plague, the "Black Death", cholera, the bubonic plague, yellow fever and numerous other epidemic pests which until recently occasionally decimated entire nations have also diminished and, in fact, nearly disappeared. Not one of these epidemics was treated by vaccination. Why, then, did they abate and practically disappear? The answer is, because of the more general adoption of soap, bathtubs, all kinds of sanitary measures, such as plumbing, drainage and ventilation, and because of more hygienic modes of living.
Entire article at:
Thimerosal induces micronuclei in the cytochalasin B block micronucleus test with human lymphocytes
Authors Götz A. Westphal, Soha Asgari, Thomas G. Schulz, Jürgen Bünger, Michael Müller, Ernst Hallier Abstract Thimerosal is a widely used preservative in health care products, especially in vaccines. Due to possible adverse health effects, investigations on its metabolism and toxicity are urgently needed. An in vivo study on chronic toxicity of thimerosal in rats was inconclusive and reports on genotoxic effects in various in vitro systems were contradictory. Therefore, we reinvestigated thimerosal in the cytochalasin B block micronucleus test. Glutathione S-transferases were proposed to be involved in the detoxification of thimerosal or its decomposition products. Since the outcome of genotoxicity studies can be dependent on the metabolic competence of the cells used, we were additionally interested whether polymorphisms of glutathione S-transferases (GSTM1, GSTT1, or GSTP1) may influence the results of the micronucleus test with primary human lymphocytes. Blood samples of six healthy donors of different glutathione S-transferase genotypes were included in the study. At least two independent experiments were performed for each blood donor. Significant induction of micronuclei was seen at concentrations between 0.05-0.5 µg/ml in 14 out of 16 experiments. Thus, genotoxic effects were seen even at concentrations which can occur at the injection site. Toxicity and toxicity-related elevation of micronuclei was seen at and above 0.6 µg/ml thimerosal. Marked individual and intraindividual variations in the in vitro response to thimerosal among the different blood donors occurred. However, there was no association observed with any of the glutathione S-transferase polymorphism investigated. In conclusion, thimerosal is genotoxic in the cytochalasin B block micronucleus test with human lymphocytes. These data raise some concern on the widespread use of thimerosal. Genotoxic chemicals are those which are capable of causing damage to DNA. Such damage can potentially lead to the formation of a malignant tumor, but DNA damage does not lead inevitably to the creation of cancerous cells
DNA study challenges basic ideas in genetics
Genome 'junk' appears essential
By Colin Nickerson, Globe Staff | June 14, 2007
A massive international study of the human genome has caused scientists to rethink some of the most basic concepts of cellular function. Genes, it turns
out, may be relatively minor players in genetic processes that are far more subtle and complicated than previously imagined. Among the critical findings: A huge amount of DNA long regarded as useless -- and dismissively labeled "junk DNA" -- now appears to be essential to the regulatory processes that control cells. Also, the regions of DNA lying between genes may be powerful triggers for diseases -- and may hold the key for potential cures.
The research, published in a set of papers in today's editions of the journals Nature and Genome Research, raised far more questions than it answered --
and in a sense was a rallying cry for more and deeper research into the functioning of the genome, often referred to as the "blueprint" for life.
"The instruction manual for life is written in a language we are only just beginning to understand," Francis Collins, director of the federal government's National Human Genome Research Institute , said at a news conference yesterday. Collins' s institute was among the more than 80 research institutions in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia that participated in the $42 million, four-year study, whose aim was to analyze 30 million units of human DNA -- just 1 percent of the entire human genome -- to create an inventory of biologically functional elements. The project is known as the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, or ENCODE, and involved an exhaustive scrutiny of 44 broad "sites" in the human genome, probing not just genes, but all material in the samples.
"We're finding that a lot of the genome is as mysterious as 'dark matter' in physics; we know it is out there doing something. The challenge is to find out what and why," said Thomas D. Tullius , professor of chemistry at Boston University and one of the ENCODE researchers. "There were huge surprises; this research has upset a lot of thinking about how the genome works." He added in an interview: "There now appear to be thousands of places in the genome that were long thought to be useless or meaningless, but which we now see to have a functional role. But we don't really understand what that role is."
Most startling, according to researchers, is that some areas of the genome looming as crucial are regions that don't contain specific instructions for making proteins. That recognition amounts to a sea change in basic biology. There are about 20,000 genes in the human body. But they are surrounded by other DNA material whose exact purpose is unclear. Roughly 1 percent of the human genome is thought to be "protein-coding" -- that is, genes. Another 4 percent had been thought to be "non coding DNA" that serves as on-off switches for the genes, and the rest was seen as a sort of swamp with no clear purpose.
But the new work suggests that the "control regions" in the DNA are far more extensive, perhaps embracing more than half of all DNA. Functions thought to be carried out by genes alone now appear to be managed by multiple, overlapping segments of DNA. In addition, other portions of the genome are believed to be on standby, as a toolbag to be utilized as humans evolve.
"It's like clutter in the attic," said Collins. "Most of the time, the human genome is operating on the 'first and second floor,' with 5 percent of the genome doing what needs to be done on a daily basis. But over evolutionary time, a much larger part of the genome, the stuff in the attic, becomes important. It's waiting for natural selection to call for it."
The ENCODE research builds on the historic Human Genome Project, largely completed in 2003, which cataloged the genes. Instead of the "big picture" look at the entire structure, the ENCODE project fine-combed selected sites in the genome in extraordinary detail. Half the sites were known by scientists to affect gene replication and protein coding; the other half were random samples from across the genome, including swatches of "junk."
A long standing assumption in genetics has been that cellular organisms are run by genes, which instruct cells to produce proteins thought to be the main driving mechanism in cells. But according to the study, obscure sections of the genome, the "junk DNA," may play an even more critical role in health and evolution than genes themselves.
"We're reshaping our understanding of which regions of the genome produce the critical information" that allows organisms to function and evolve, said Michael Snyder, professor of molecular biophysics at Yale University and one of
Recent research into heart attacks and diabetes has made the startling discovery that the roots of disease may lie in noncoding portions of DNA, not in the genes themselves.
In a significant finding, researchers discovered that "gene transcription" -- essential to the process by which DNA builds proteins indispensable to life -- is occurring in regions between genes. They found that ribonucleic acid, or RNA, long seen as another type of genetic code that directs cellular machinery to make proteins, is also produced in stretches of the genome not involved in protein production. That suggests that these regions have an important purpose, though still not understood, the scientists said.
"Transcription appears to be far more interconnected across the genome than anyone had thought," said Collins, adding that the ENCODE findings are "moving us into a deeper understanding of how life works and how, sometimes, things go wrong and disease occurs."
But untangling the tantalizing implications of the new findings will be the work of years.
"It's like reading a code, text jumbled together, and you're trying to make sense of it," said Zhiping Weng, professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University and a researcher in the study. "This project provides many new insights into the complex functional landscape of the human genome."© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.
# 15 Toxic Exposure Can Be Transmitted to Future Generations on a “Second Genetic Code”
Source: Rachel’s Democracy & Health News, October 12, 2006
Title: “Some Chemicals are More Harmful Than Anyone Ever Suspected”
Author: Peter Montague
Student Researchers: Kristen Kebler and Michael Januleski
Faculty Evaluator: Gary Evans, M.D.
Research suggests that, contrary to previous belief, our behavior and our environmental conditions may program sections of our children’s DNA. New evidence about how genes interact with the environment suggests that many industrial chemicals may be more ominously dangerous than previously thought. It is increasingly clear that the effects of toxic exposure may be passed on through generations, in ways that are still not fully understood. “This introduces the concept of responsibility into genetics and inheritance,” said Dr. Moshe Szyf, a researcher at McGill University in Montreal, “This may revolutionize medicine. You aren’t eating and exercising just for yourself, but for your lineage.”1 The new field of genetic research, called epigenetics, involves what scientists are referring to as a “second genetic code” which influences how genes act in the body. If DNA is the hardware of inheritance, the epigenetic system is the software. The epigenetic system determines which genes get turned “off” or “on” and how much of a certain protein they produce. It is this switching system that allows the genetic material in each cell to influence the creation of proteins—which ones are manufactured, in what sequence, and how many. Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. The chemicals and hormones in our bodies are proteins. They determine, in large part, how we look, how we feel, even how we act.1 Now, it seems that this chemical switching system may also act in reverse. In most cases, epigenetic changes (changes to DNA from current environmental conditions) are not passed from parents to their offspring. Scientists are still not sure how—but genes seem to be “wiped clean” after a sperm fertilizes an egg. Based on the recent data, however, researchers are intrigued by the notion that some of the genetic changes influenced by our diet, our behaviors, or our environment, may be passed on from generation to generation.
On average, 1,800 new chemicals are registered with the federal government each year and about 750 of these find their way into products, all with hardly any testing for health or environmental effects. The bad news about chemical contamination is steadily mounting, while the number of new chemicals is steadily increasing. Many critics of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are renewing their admonitions that government agencies practice the “precautionary principle”—the rule of “do no harm first” in the approval of new drugs and chemicals. In 2005, the European Union responded to this situation by trying to enact a new law called Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH), which requires that chemicals be tested before they are sold—not after. As they say in Europe, “No data, no market.” At the same time, US and European chemical industries—and the White House—began working overtime to subvert the European effort to enact REACH. Their efforts failed, however, and the REACH act was adopted by the European Union in December, 2006.2 Chemical companies throughout the US and Europe are still struggling with how they will respond to the new requirements.
1. Anne McIlroy, “Chemicals and Stress Cause Gene Changes That Can Be Inherited,” Globe & Mail, March 11, 2006. See
2. “European Parliament OKs World’s Toughest Law on Toxic Chemicals,” San Francisco Chronicle, December 14, 2006.
UPDATE BY PETER MONTAGUE
Basically this story tells us that environmental influences (like our mother’s diet and her exposure to toxic chemicals) are far more important to us than anyone suspected just a decade ago. It turns out that environmental influences shape us from the moment of conception onward, and the earliest months and years of life are the most important ones. It is called “fetal programming” and it means our first environment (the womb) can determine what sorts of diseases will afflict us later in life. Furthermore, some of these early influences can be inherited by our offspring and even by their offspring. So your personal pattern of disease may have been set by your grandmother’s diet, or by her exposure to toxicants.
These findings imply that keeping toxic industrial chemicals out of the environment is far more urgent than anyone has previously thought. With more than 1,000 chemicals presently entering commercial channels each year with almost no health or safety testing, this is not welcome news. In May 2007, a group of two hundred scientists from five continents issued strongly worded consensus statement (the “Faroes Statement”) saying that early exposure to common chemicals leaves babies more likely to develop serious diseases later in life, including diabetes, attention deficits, certain cancers, thyroid disorders, and obesity, among others.
Notably, the scientists urged governments not to wait for more scientific certainty but to take precautionary action now to protect fetuses and children from toxic exposures. Most of the mainstream press continued to tiptoe around this story, with a few important exceptions, until May 2007 when the Faroes statement blew the story open. Now that it is out in the open, we’ll have to see if the mainstream press has what it takes to explain the far-reaching
ramifications of these findings. The best source of information on this topic (and many others) is http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org. Search for “epigenetics,” “fetal programming,” or “gene expression.”
Folate deficiency causes uracil misincorporation into human DNA
and chromosome breakage: Implications for cancer
and neuronal damage
BENJAMIN C. BLOUNT*, MATTHEW M. MACK*, CAROL M. WEHR*, JAMES T. MACGREGOR†, ROBERT A. HIATT‡,
GENE WANG*, SUNITHA N. WICKRAMASINGHE§, RICHARD B. EVERSON¶, AND BRUCE N. AMES*i
*Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720; †Toxicology
Laboratory, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA 94025; ‡Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland CA 94611;
§Department of Haematology, St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London W21PG, United Kingdom;
¶Karmanos Cancer Institute, and Department of Internal Medicine and Pathology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201
Contributed by Bruce N. Ames, January 24, 1997
ABSTRACT Folate deficiency causes massive incorporation of uracil into human DNA (4 million per cell) and chromosome breaks. The likely mechanism is the deficient methylation of dUMP to dTMP and subsequent incorporation of uracil into DNA by DNA polymerase. During repair of uracil in DNA, transient nicks are formed; two opposing nicks could lead to chromosome breaks. Both high DNA uracil levels and elevated micronucleus frequency (a measure of chromosome breaks) are reversed by folate administration. A significant proportion of the U.S. population has low folate levels, in the range associated with elevated uracil misincorporation and chromosome breaks. Such breaks could contribute to the increased risk of cancer and cognitive defects associated with folate deficiency in humans.