Completion of the human genome sequence means that we know the arrangements of DNA bases and the genes which perform biological functions- but what is this telling us:
- All human beings of different racial and ethnic identify (African, Asian, Indian, Caucasian) share 99.5% sequence identity.
- The 0.5% sequence variation in different populations contributes to differences in skin color, hair and eye color, height, built, response to environmental exposures, differences in prevalence of disease susceptibility or resistance or even differences in drug metabolism
- The sequence variations and environmental factors contributes to adaptive traits differences such than Africans have adopted dark skin pigmentation in high UV environments against UV radiation damage while at the same time making sufficient vitamin D (an essential nutrient). On the other hand, light skin pigmentation is adaptation in low UV environment yet is able to make sufficient Vitamin D. Therefore, a dark skinned African who migrates to low UV environments are not able to make sufficient Vitamin D especially doing winter months and thus must consume diets rich in Vitamin D (or use vitamin D supplements) to avoid susceptibility to certain diseases including cancer. Similarly light skin pigmented individuals who migrate to high UV environments must protect themselves against too much UV radiation or risk getting skin cancer.
- Information from the human genome categorically dispels any notion of racial hierarchy where one race is intellectually more superior to another race.
Acculturation is the process whereby immigrants incorporate or adopt the cultural patterns such as values, behaviors, norms, attitudes and beliefs of the host country. Acculturation can significantly impact the health outcome for minorities, particularly for minorities whose primary language is different from the host country such as older migrants to the USA, UK or Australia for whom English is their second language. Acculturation can help navigate the healthcare system including obtaining information on diseases preventative measures such as screening, physical activity and access to other healthcare resources.
However, findings including report from the United Nations indicate that while sub-Saharan Africans have among the lowest incidence on obesity on the African continent, upon migration to industrialized countries sub-Saharan African migrants have increased incidence of obesity and obesity-related diseases (Healthy migrant). Similarly, Japanese migrants have the lowest incidence of colon and prostate cancer in their native countries; however 2nd and 3rd generation Japanese migrants to the USA and who adopt the Western dietary pattern have increased cancer risk comparable to their European-American counterpart.
Therefore migrants must maintain some elements of their traditional cultural practices, particularly healthy dietary habits, active lifestyle and healthy body weight.
People are still amazed that diet (foods) has anything to do diseases including cancer. When we consider our contact with the environment (air, water and food), the 1000’s of different food substances that we ingest clearly makes food our most intimate contact with the environment. This is so obvious yet ignored. In 1964, Acheson and Doll (Cancer and diet ) were among the first to publish an association between cancer and diet: We now know that animal fat (and also vegetable fat) is directly correlated with increases in cancer- breast, prostate and colon. Is it any wonder that Rich countries with their high fat intake has high cancer incidence, whereas poor countries with low fat intake has lower cancer risks.
Can we therefore reverse or improve our survival chances of cancer by adopting healthier diets- you bet!
Attention to early childhood and adolescent well-being, in particular for individuals of low socio-economic status (SES) is wise investment to prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity.
Cancer Causes and Controversies- Understanding Risk Reduction and Prevention” is a book that talks about the risks factors associated with cancer (e.g., diet, pollution, body weight, immune system); preventative measures (exercise, the role of healthy diet), the importance of cancer screening (early detection is a priority); some of the controversies surrounding cancer (GMO foods, dietary supplements, cellphone usage etc etc)….but ultimately God is our healer. This book is available at Amazon.com
Given every individual the right amount of healthy nutrition and exercise; not too much and not too little is the safest way to good health- Hippocrates.
First blog about Bernard…………….
Hello blog world,
I am excited to be part of this fantastic informational website. I think this would be a great forum to discuss topics on cancer prevention and minority health, in particular disease disparities in the African diaspora. I will begin with a little information about myself: I am a cancer biologist with a PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and my research work focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms driving prostate cancer progression and the disease disparity. I am involved in mentoring research students from undergraduate to PhD candidates in various aspects of prostate cancer research. In addition to my research work, I am also involved in teaching medical, dental, pharmacology as well as graduate students in different aspects of biochemistry and Molecular Biology. What I find to be most fulfilling is the ability to translate my research work into public health through public and community education on the importance of cancer prevention. I am the proud author of a book entitled “Cancer Causes and Controversies- understanding risk reduction and prevention” (available on Amazon.com), and as it’s name implies describes the risk factors associated with common cancers and the role for writing this book is to educate the public on the measures we need to take to reduce our risk to cancer. I currently serve as an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Howard University and the Principal Investigator of a prostate cancer research laboratory and enjoy working in this environment whose mission fits perfectly with mine to do research, teach and educate in sciences that resonate with public health.
I am excited about the significant scientific breakthrough over the past century, particularly the recent completion of the human genome sequence which is helping us to unlock the complexities of environmental impact on gene expression and how small variations in the human genome among different racial/ethnic groups is providing insights into differences in disease susceptibility to drug metabolism which is driving this whole area of personalized medicine. At the same time we are uncovering the role of epigenetics as master regulator of gene expression clearly demonstrating an added layer in the complexities in gene regulation and providing additional insights into the molecular mechanisms associated with disease etiologies and progression.
This blog site will serve as an educational tool for cancer prevention topics and various aspects of minority/Diaspora health.