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Ancestry plays vital role in nutrition and disease, study shows
Date:6/14/2011

WINSTON-SALEM, N. C., -- June 14, 2011 Over the past decade, much progress has been made regarding the understanding and promise of personalized medicine. Scientists are just beginning to consider the impact of gene-diet interactions in different populations in regards to disease prevention and treatment.

The latest research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the laboratories of Floyd H. "Ski" Chilton, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology and director of the Center for Botanical Lipids and Inflammatory Disease Prevention, and Rasika Mathias, Sc.D, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reveals how humans of different ancestry process a certain type of fat called polyunsaturated (PUFA) fat.

Importantly, this work suggests that the dramatic increase in a particular type of fatty acid, omega-6 PUFAs, in the American diet, together with a genetic propensity, causes individuals of African descent to more efficiently convert these dietary PUFAs to long chain PUFAs in the human body. Long chain PUFA can then, in turn, be converted to inflammatory messengers. Increased inflammatory messengers have been associated with a variety of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, allergies and asthma, and diabetes.

The research, described in a manuscript that appears online this month in BMC Genetics, with upcoming publication in The British Journal of Nutrition, finds that populations of African descent have a much higher frequency of the gene variants associated with the conversion of dietary, medium chain omega-6 PUFAs to long chain omega-6 PUFAs that then have the potential to increase inflammation. Medium chain omega-6 PUFAs are found in the American diet in very high concentrations in margarine, vegetable oils, animal fats and processed foods.

"I believe observations such as this begin to address the critical question of why wes
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Contact: Bonnie Davis
bdavis@wakehealth.edu
336-716-4977
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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