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DNA switch “changes destiny”–NHK Special


An NHK TV Special program discussed “epigenetics” the other day. Epigenetics – Have you heard of it? The NHK TV program introduced it as “DNA switch”. Speaking of DNA, it’s the “blueprint for life”. What sort of constitution the person has, what level of ability he has, and what kind of disease he will likely have, is roughly determined by the DNA he or she has. That was my understanding, but there is a “switch” on the DNA that designs life. We learned how outcome could be changed by turning the switch on and off.

Why twins’ outcome differs

The study of twins is well-known. Identical twins have the same DNA, but it by no means determines the same outcome for them. Certainly, when they are young, they look exactly the same. But gradually you will see a change in appearance; for example, one may get cancer at one point, while the other is disease-free at the same age, and so on. It doesn’t mean that you will develop a disease. It’s said that acquired elements may switch the DNA on and off. The program highlighted overseas research targeting cancer patients. In this research, when they examined the genetic information of patients with cancer, it seemed that all had “genes to suppress cancer”. However, 60% of the patients had turned off the switch for the “gene to suppress cancer”.

What separates queen bees from worker bees?

One of the things that I found interesting was Dr. Shinya Yamanaka’s report on TV about the queen bee; Dr Yamanaka and Mr. Tamori served as hosts for the program. It is well known that bee colonies have queen bees and worker bees. Having similar DNA, why most bees will be worker bees and a few bees will be queen bees…. that is curious. “The DNA switch, epigenetics” was relevant. Although female workers and queens have exactly the same gene, it seems that only bees that have grown by eating royal jelly as larvae become queens. And when it comes to the queen
bee, the body is 1.5 times longer and the life span is 20 times that of the worker bee, and it is said that it will produce 2000 eggs a day. So much of the difference in outcome, that was not caused by the birth DNA, was caused by the switch of DNA due to acquired factors.

Shifting method of DNA switch

Although the natural DNA itself cannot be changed, the manner of occurrence can be changed by switching on and off. If you understand that, what you care about is how the on / off feature of the switch is reversed. How can genes that suppress various diseases, including cancer, be turned “on”? How can genes that are prone to various diseases, such as diabetes, be “turned off”? “Diet” and “exercise” are known to be greatly involved. Everyone knows that healthy eating and exercising are important for good health, but many people say, “I know, but I can’t stick with it.” However, if you even think that the switch of the DNA will change, your motivation to eat less and exercise will increase.

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