Especially impressive is the experimental evidence on the role of dietary restriction in reducing the incidence of various malignancies in rodents see Grasl-Kraupp et al. However, while improving the diet appears to be a relatively simple undertaking compared with other undertakings we are discussing, this is not so. Efforts to control cardiovascular i. One prime approach has been the substitution for dietary butter and lard of polyunsaturated vegetable oils that have been rendered semi-solid by catalytic hydrogenation.
Now Mann is arguing that the reason for a sub-optimal result in attempts to ameliorate atherogenesis with the use of these oils is that partial hydrogenation is accompanied by a shift in the position in the fatty acid of many hydrogen ions, from cis to trans , and these predominantly trans fatty acids cannot be metabolized as well as the more usual cis fatty acids. If this thesis proves to be correct, it will indicate the care with which diets must be realigned.
In this particular case, what seemed an obviously appropriate modification was never really tested out before massive promotion. A second arena for euphenic thinking is with respect to the environment of the mind. This is a vast topic that we have no time to discuss properly. Suffice it to say that there are again complex heredity-environmental interactions that we must understand better if we are to alleviate the aggressions that result in the fratricidal tragedies recently witnessed in the former Yugoslavia, or in Somalia, or in Liberia.
Speaking as a citizen of the United States, I feel strongly that the glorified violent solutions of human problems that so permeate commercial television are inappropriate representations to our young of how the world functions. Euphenics can proceed on an individual or population basis. While the two approaches are not mutually exclusive, society may, in the interests of efficiency, attempt to emphasize one or the other. As an example, elevated blood levels of homocysteine sometimes elevated for genetic reasons appear to play a role in the etiology of vascular disease.
These levels can be reduced by the administration of folic acid. Physicians could screen patients considered at risk for vascular disease and if hyperhomocysteinemia is encountered, initiate folic acid therapy on an individual basis. On the other hand, Boushey et al. Morbidity and mortality from coronary artery disease, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease should also be reduced. Incidentally, this dietary fortification may only be restoring folic acid intake to levels characteristic of many early human populations, in which case the dietary folic acid supplementation is truly euphenic rather than medicinal.
There is thus a strong argument for routine dietary fortification, which would probably be less costly than individual tests and pharmaceutical prescriptions for those with elevated blood homocysteine levels, i.
It should be noted that the euphenical approach offers few quick fixes. Dietary supplementations, as just discussed, place no personal strictures on the individual. However, there are many aspects of euphenics that require an individual commitment: total calorie uptake, proportion of calories derived from fat, fibrous content of diet, etc. Let us assume that by dietary manipulation society could decrease obesity, NIDDM, and hypertension by at least one half.
Perhaps by a thorough understanding of the genetics of these diseases, genetic therapies might lead to a comparable result. The former approach would entail a fraction of the expense to society as compared with the latter approach as now envisioned. If the government in a democratic society assumes, under increasingly straitened circumstances, responsibility for the health care of its citizens, we may expect a lively debate in the future over the allocation of resources, between public education directed at altering life styles conducive to the realization of genetic predispositions and the genetic therapies for those same diseases in that population.
There is, however, an unfortunate "catch 22" to euphenics, as, indeed, there also is to the various genetic gene therapies in place and under consideration. All over the world, but especially in the industrialized nations, the proportion of elderly citizens is increasing. In the United States, for instance, the number of persons over 65 years of age is projected to increase from the current 30 million to 58 million by the year Nations are already having difficulty adjusting to the various issues created by the increasing number and proportion of, usually, non-productive citizens. To the extent that improved genetic therapies and euphenic measures contribute to a worsening of this situation, a current social problem can only be exacerbated.
These past 50 years have been a time of intellectual excitement and advance in the field of human genetics that, because of the magnitude and heterogeneity of the discoveries, few of us truly understand. Although dramatic discoveries will continue, we are now entering into a period of integration and consolidation, in which the ethical and practical implications of this new knowledge will provide the foci for intense debate. But increasingly, I suggest, we geneticists will and should also be drawn into questions of population limitation and how it is to be accomplished.
Even if none of molecular genetics bore any practical fruit for another generation, the genetic health and well-being of the human gene pool would not deteriorate on this account. But I absolutely guarantee you, that if we geneticists do not join kindred souls in seeking to reconcile population growth with sustainable resources, and present trends continue, the gene pool will be affected in ways we cannot foresee, ways apt to impoverish that gene pool, even as the quality of life deteriorates. We will also, as the limitations of gene and genetic technology become apparent, and cost-benefit ratios get sorted out, almost surely find ourselves devoting more time to euphenic considerations, and especially the balance between individual and group euphenics.
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Ciba Foundation Symposium 49 Health And Disease In Tribal Societies
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Ciba Foundation Symposium 49 Health And Disease In Tribal Societies
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