Repairing DNA Damage

Repairing DNA Damage
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Greater DNA repair capacity may explain why those eating plant-based diets appear to have fewer breaks in their chromosomes as they age.

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Concord grapes, we just learned, may block breast cell DNA damage by blocking the binding of carcinogens to our DNA in the first place. Almonds and Brussels sprouts, likewise, may protect against DNA damage by boosting our own DNA repair mechanisms. There’s actually this enzyme in all of us whose sole purpose is to just travel up and down our DNA, patching up holes.

As we age, we accumulate breaks in our DNA—actual physical breaks in our chromosomes, which may be one of the reasons we get cancer, and why our organs tend to break down as we get older. With the understanding that eating plants protects our DNA, and eating animals may damage it, as I talked about in previous reviews, this year Slovakian researchers measured the number of DNA breaks in vegetarians compared to meat-eaters, led by a Dr. Krajcovicová-Kudlácková—Dr. K! They counted DNA breaks in both meat-eaters and vegetarians at 25 years of age through 65.

Here are the meat-eaters; as you can see, a sharp rise in DNA breakage as they aged through adulthood and middle age. Here are the vegetarians. Notice two things: not only is the slope much more gradual—less DNA breakage as you age—but vegetarians at age 65 seem to have the DNA of a 25-year-old!

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Concord grapes, we just learned, may block breast cell DNA damage by blocking the binding of carcinogens to our DNA in the first place. Almonds and Brussels sprouts, likewise, may protect against DNA damage by boosting our own DNA repair mechanisms. There’s actually this enzyme in all of us whose sole purpose is to just travel up and down our DNA, patching up holes.

As we age, we accumulate breaks in our DNA—actual physical breaks in our chromosomes, which may be one of the reasons we get cancer, and why our organs tend to break down as we get older. With the understanding that eating plants protects our DNA, and eating animals may damage it, as I talked about in previous reviews, this year Slovakian researchers measured the number of DNA breaks in vegetarians compared to meat-eaters, led by a Dr. Krajcovicová-Kudlácková—Dr. K! They counted DNA breaks in both meat-eaters and vegetarians at 25 years of age through 65.

Here are the meat-eaters; as you can see, a sharp rise in DNA breakage as they aged through adulthood and middle age. Here are the vegetarians. Notice two things: not only is the slope much more gradual—less DNA breakage as you age—but vegetarians at age 65 seem to have the DNA of a 25-year-old!

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

17 responses to “Repairing DNA Damage

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    1. It looks as if the data you are actually using is the oxidized DNA damage. I am curious why you didn’t portray it as thus instead of just DNA damage which had no statistical significance between the two groups, and no statistical significance between the older and the younger groups?

  1. are there any forms of relief for Wegener’s Syndrome / Granulomatosis affecting my friend’s nasal (complete bridge collapse and on prednisone with no relief in sight)? Chinese medicine balance of yin/yang? Extensive Ayurvedic treatments? Medicinal Hemp Oil?

    I searched nutrituion facts. org …. no reference to this condition is listed

  2. What if I just started going vegan this year, at age 67? No hope for previous DNA breaks then? too late? Thanks!

  3. I just love hearing good things about my diet!  I have been vegetarian (mostly vegan) for 33 years now. Thank you, Dr. Greger.

  4. Dear Dr Greger, you mention in this video that there is an enzyme “we all have” with the sole responsibility of repairing holes in our DNA. I have been diagnosed with an MTHFR genetic defect. I’ve been told it is the job of this enzyme to correct my DNA. (Not certain if this is indeed the same enzyme to which you were referring in the video, but it’s certainly similar.) I am currently taking methylfolate to correct the defect, and it works marvelously for me. But I am unable to find further information within your database on the subject of MTHFR defects. Could you provide more information, please? Thank you!

  5. Are these ingredients safe: Other ingredients: Microcrystalline cellulose (plant fiber), hypromellose (vegetable capsule, gellan gum), alfalfa, may contain one or both of the following: magnesium stearate, silica.

  6. Working with a friend to overcome a huge diabetes condition. Is doing well but he is constantly challenged by family……”you can’t get enough protein on plant based diet.” He is 80 yrs. old……how much protein does he need daily and what would be great sources for him?

    1. RKS: I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reply. It is a very reasonable question.

      For understanding how easy it is to get enough protein, I highly recommend the following page, which is packed full of very basic, well established information, but in a format that is easily digestible (hee,hee):
      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

      Bottom line: if your friend packs his diet with the four main food groups: fruits, veggies, legumes, and grains, with 1-2 ounces of nuts or seeds and vitamin B12 and vitamin D, he should do very well. I have read that some recent studies indicate that older people may need more protein than younger people. If so, your friend can use the information in the above page to tweak his diet. (Ex: eat lots of beans…)

      Another great article that supports and expands on the above page is from Dr. McDougall.
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/newsletter/archives/
      (check out December 2003 for McDougall’s site, “A Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, Rats, and Enlightenment”. Also April 2007, “When Friends Ask: Where do you get your protein?”)

      Finally, I think your friend will want to know that Dr. Neal Barnard was able to use a low fat whole food plant based diet to help many Type 2 diabetics reverse their condition – most lowering or eliminating their medications. He did this in a clinical, published peer reviewed study that showed his diet is 3 times more effective than the ADA diet. Dr. Barnard wrote a book about his diet that even includes recipes. The book is an easy read. And very inspiring. I’m thinking that this book will be perfect for you. I think it is an awesome book myself:
      http://www.amazon.com/Neal-Barnards-Program-Reversing-Diabetes/dp/1594868107/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419379293&sr=1-1&keywords=prevent+and+reverse+diabetes

      Good luck! And let us know how it goes for your friend.

  7. “One known type of damage is oxidative DNA damage. It is believed to be involved in the cause of many serious diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, arteriosclerosis and diabetes. Recently, researchers from the Faculty of Science, School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University (New South Wales) have found that obesity, which increases blood glucose levels, contributes to oxidative DNA damage. For all of us, fighting this modern consumer food cultural and physical battling of balancing adequate nutrition with proper caloric intake, it seems more important than ever that we find success in arriving at and maintaining a healthy weight.”

    Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “200 calories Every 2 hours.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/9RSzW.l

  8. “…vegetarian at age 65 seems to have DNA of a 25 year old.” Is this because 9 generations of new cells have finally been replaced in the body? That we have all new cells in our bodies every 7 years?
    never too l8 to go Vegan!

  9. Such an important video!

    Please correct me if I am wrong.
    ALL whole edible plant foods are anti-inflammatory and
    ALL animal foods are inflammatory and pro-inflammatory?

    Are there any exceptions to this “Rule”?

  10. I don’t know of any exceptions except for in the case of foods that a particular individual is allergic to or has an immune reaction against. Food allergies usually involve inflammation and swelling of the mouth, tongue, throat, and airways that occurs immediately after eating a specific food (strawberries and peanuts are plant foods that can cause this in some people). People with celiac disease can experience inflammation in the GI tract after consuming gluten-containing whole grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. The average person would not experience inflammation from eating these foods, however. Regarding animal foods, there are MANY studies that support the view that eliminating them from the diet reduces inflammation throughout the body.

    Dr. Jamie Koonce

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