Have you ever read a book and found a typo? A professional book which was edited and reviewed still had an error in it. Or something going through an automated assembly line fails — the process works thousands of times in a row, but then you get a dud. Even highly accurate processes sometimes fail.
When you see a typo, you can still usually figure out what the author meant. The context of the sentence, what other supporting sentences are saying, and possible letter substitutions that would fix the typo often help you guess the meaning. There are many ways you can “error correct” a typo.
When your cells divide, they copy the DNA so each new cell has identical DNA. Those copies should be exactly the same, and usually they are. But occasionally, there is a mistake in the copy process. When that happens, it may have an impact on how the cell operates. But like the typo, cells can get past an error and still function normally, if they successfully error-correct.
DNA and Genes
We often speak of DNA and genes interchangeably. Genes are actually just part of the DNA strand. The DNA is like a whole book, and the genes are like individual pages. DNA has a number of genes in its strand. Only genes code proteins; that is, only the gene segments of DNA can be used to create unique proteins which then cause a specific function or action to occur. These “coding” portions of the DNA make up about 3% of the total DNA. The non-coding, non-gene sequences play a significant part however: they control the expression of genes. It is the non-coding portions of DNA that can be methylated to “silence” certain gene expressions.
The genes control the formation of proteins, and proteins then cause action. During a process called “transcription”, gene information is coded onto RNA (ribonucleic acid), To make a protein, messenger RNA (mRNA) is transcribed and then carries the coded information out of the cell nucleus and into the cytoplasm of the cell. There another step occurs called “translation”, where the mRNA interacts with a ribosome, which is capable of “reading” the coded information within the mRNA.
This reading process is very sophisticated. A sequence of three nucleotides, which are special sugar molecules attached to a phosphate group and a nitrogen base, form a “codon”. A codon generally codes one specific amino acid. Somewhat like Legos consisting of a number of different types of pieces can form just about any toy structure, the different amino acids that are pieced together form a very unique and complicated protein. Another type of RNA, called transfer RNA (tRNA) assembles the protein one amino acid at a time. Thus, through this process, specific gene information creates specific proteins in their likeness.
Proteins react instantly in various chemical situations with their entire shape changing molecularly in three dimensions, changing their chemical bonding. Proteins can be built in so many forms to act in so many different ways that we are still discovering new interactions that they can perform. Most of the proteins formed within cells are enzymes, which have specific biochemical functions. Proteins are the action producers of the cells, coded by the “language” of the genes.
Just a little SNP…
SNPs (pronounced “snips”) are “single-nucleotide polymorphisms” — these are the “typos” in DNA replication that occasionally occur. The alphabet of DNA is made up of four letters representing the four building blocks of the DNA: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). SNP errors occur when a single piece of the complex DNA strand gets the wrong letter inserted during replication. The SNP can occur anywhere throughout the DNA strand — in the coding or non-coding regions. If it occurs in the gene (a coding segment), then its error can translate through to the protein that is produced from that gene. If it occurs in the non-coding portion, it can impact gene expression even though it has not changed the gene itself. Since only about 3% of the DNA is made up of genes, most SNPs will occur in the non-coding regions.
Genes and pathways
Although the possible sequences of a protein are almost infinite, the biological pathways that they influence are more limited. A biological pathway is a linked series of chemical reactions that occur within a cell, usually moderated by enzymes. A limited number of cellular pathways means that there are only so many ways a cell can respond to the instructions provided to it from genes. This means that the many genetic instructions, including errors, must funnel down to a smaller set of metabolic pathways.
Published in Genome Biology, researchers at Stanford University and Indiana University – Purdue performed a “computational pathway analysis” of the human genome to verify the predicted set of metabolic pathways. Their research assigned 2,709 human enzymes to 896 biological reactions, and found 622 of the enzymes had roles in the 135 discovered metabolic pathways. The mapping of the human genome has opened the door to many studies into the actions of the genome “blueprint”. We can detect DNA transcription errors and increasingly map out their impact on metabolic pathways.
Just as there are many routes, using many different roads, to get to a particular location with your car, so your genetics have many ways that they can play out in your metabolism. Each pathway can be influenced by different enzymes and thus by different genetic expressions. A particular gene change due to a SNP still may not impact a pathway in any significant way, or if it does, it is likely not the only expression affecting that pathway. A pathway is influenced by many factors, not just a single genetic instruction.
Finally, it is a combination of pathways that makes up cell metabolism. There is some redundancy in pathways, such that if one pathway is blocked, another might fill in the gap. Cancer takes advantage of this by searching for whatever pathways gets the job done, especially when drugs are used to block specific pathways it needs. It can usually find a pathway to get to its destination, even when some are blocked. But this can work both ways if you enhance pathways through healthy habits.
Can you see how complicated this becomes? Genetics are a tiny part of the story. Genetic expression and silencing further complicates the matter and can be even more of a factor than the genetics themselves. The genetic expressions get funneled into certain metabolic pathways which are also influenced by other expressions as well as availability of nutrients and other environmental factors for a pathway to function properly. The combined set of pathways make up the cell’s activity.
Breast Cancer and SNPs
Many diseases can be influenced by SNPs, including most cancers. Genetic risk factor research for breast cancer received a major boost with our massive growth of computational power coupled with genetic mapping, and genetic testing is now readily available. Mutations are almost infinite, but scientists have been able to correlate certain genetics back to increased risk of breast cancer. Notice they never say that certain genetics guarantee breast cancer! They can only state that they increase the risk. That’s because there are many other genetic expressions that could also be necessary for cancer to start, or that could act differently on the pathway, effectively counteracting the risk posed by specific genetics. Also, SNP gene segments are like any gene segment: they can be silenced or activated by the epigenetic reaction of methylation. Most genes are silent segments: only a few are active.
Published in Nucleic Acids Research, researchers at the University of Illinois have been using big data mining computational approaches, only possible in recent years with the advance of computing power, to study the impact of SNPs on disease, with a focus on breast and prostate cancers. They are correlating the massive possible SNP mutations against the affected pathways. The results of their studies are not yet available: they are hoping to use the correlations to find previously undiscovered disease pathways.
Testing has new potential
With the computer-aided genetic testing available, tests that were only considered in science fiction are now available and increasingly affordable. Plus the tests are more meaningful as we learn the impact of genetics, epigenetics, and environment on metabolic pathways. This gives us greater opportunity to tailor treatment to strengthen pathways that might be hampered by SNPs and other mutations. We are getting more specific ways to “steer” the body via the cellular pathways.
Some of the research sheds light on why what we already know is helpful actually works, and what therapies to enhance. We know that good nutrition and lifestyle strengthens health and disfavors diseases such as cancer, but through testing we can see what pathways are likely to be impacted and work on strengthening them specifically through more targeted nutrition. Over or under-active pathways may suggest certain vitamins or minerals are being depleted or are less available to your body, and targeted nutrition can help compensate. We can take steps to disarm negative effects of certain mutations or genetic factors, once detected through testing and once we know the impact of those factors on cellular metabolism. Knowledge is power!
Never Give Up, Never Surrender
Because of the myriad of ways genetics play out in the body, and how many different factors can influence what happens through metabolic pathways beyond the genes themselves, anything is possible. No matter how much “risk” you supposedly have because of your genetics, that is only part of the story. Even if you have active cancer, there are still many factors that can be steered in your favor instead of that of the cancer. And even if you do 100% conventional therapy, there is much you can do to make the therapy more successful and less harmful to your body. Natural health treatment is not static — it improves with advances in science.
Also take hope in this: no matter how much we learn, we always have more to learn. Science digs deep into the mysteries of life, only to find new mysteries that are even deeper. We are not victims of chance but beneficiaries of exquisite design by our Designer. Is it any wonder that supercomputers, capable of millions of calculations per second, are necessary to get as far as we have in genetic studies? It should be, because if random chance created us, and random chance managed somehow to create such a complex system that it still challenges the most complex computers we’ve been able to design so far, then that “random chance” is actually very determined, intelligent, and skillful. In other words, random chance is not a logical explanation for life, especially our highly complex life. We are not victims of chance. The Designer has pathways and methods way beyond our imagination and discovery. So take heart! Be in awe of the exquisite design built into you, and know that all things are possible.
Dr. Nemec’s Summary
When we look at how we are made at the cellular level it is pure biochemistry and cellular biology. But when we look at the base structure of our existence at the cellular level it is proteins called enzymes catalyzing biochemical reactions at tremendous speeds. But what controls how these genes make the enzymes which make the reactions happen? The environment, not the gene. This is the epigenomic influence the environment has to turn on or off the most vital functions of life. What does that mean to you? It means to overcome cancer, to win the war against any health challenge that has come to decrease the quality and quantity of your life, you must address the environment first and foremost in any health or healing approach. Let‘s say you were just diagnosed with breast cancer. With this diagnosis goes all the doubt and fear that you have something in your body that has the ability to take your life. Instead of being reactive with mental and emotional negative energy that makes your environment more inflammatory, you must see it more simply. The reason you received this diagnosis is because your environment made enzymes and turned on pathways that supported disease production. Instead of running first to remove the tumor, do chemotherapy (which is highly toxic and inflammatory), and radiation therapy (which also brings more inflammation and damage), why not see what are the best ways to improve the inflammatory and toxic environment that you have made these past 30-70 years living a standard American lifestyle and eating a standard American diet, all of which increase inflammation and toxicity. Why not work on cleaning up the environment first to give the cells a chance to do what they are really good at if they have the right environment. Let them heal. We have patients that come to us who do not want to do conventional treatment for these very reasons. But we also have patients come to us that already started conventional therapies but have “common sense” enough to know that if they inflame and poison their cells with conventional therapy they absolutely must do something in conjunction with this making of the cellular environment worse that it originally was before the conventional therapy. It is important to understand most cancers will either return with conventional treatment in their original form or one will be diagnosed with another type of cancer 1-5 years after the initial diagnosis and treatment. Why? Because the inflammation and toxicity around the cells increased which was just more epigenetic signaling to start growth once again. Without addressing the original cause completely, treating the effect of the breast cancer means nothing. It is a short term gain and a long term loss. On our program we address all the causes including mental, emotional, diet, lifestyle and genetic. And we customize treatment protocol, diets and lifestyle to optimize the cellular environment and epigenetic signals to allow the cells to do what they are designed to do — that is to heal. If you have a health challenge that you are dealing with you will need either an alternative approach (restore health naturally) or at the very least an integrative approach (combine naturally healing with conventional healing). We do both at Total Health Institute and have for the past 38 plus years. Just change the total environment and you change the outcome of how the genes, enzymes, pathways and cells respond.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.