Gene Makes You Fat, Raises Risk of Alzheimers

April 20, 2010 at 08:24 (Health, News, Science)

Well, everyone knows genetics play some role, so this isn’t a surprise. And from the point of view of evolution, it makes sense. Why would you need all that extra brain processing power if food is so plentiful you’re can’t even see your feet? Obviously you don’t need to be sharp to survive 🙂 I’m betting this will just be used as a new excuse by a lot of folks, though. “I eat because my genes make me” or “I commit crime because my genes make me”. Bah.

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A variant of an obesity gene carried by more than a third of the U.S. population also reduces brain volume, raising carriers’ risk of Alzheimer’s disease, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

People with a specific variant of the fat mass and obesity gene, or FTO gene, have brain deficits that could make them more vulnerable to the mind-robbing disease.

“The basic result is that this very prevalent gene not only adds an inch to your waistline, but makes your brain look 16 years older,” said Paul Thompson, a professor of neurology at the University of California Los Angeles, who worked on the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Brains generally shrink with age.

The study compared brain scans of more than 200 people and found consistently less tissue in the brains of people who carry the “bad” version of the FTO gene compared to non-carriers.

On average, people with the obesity variant of the FTO gene had 8 percent less tissue in their frontal lobes — sometimes referred to as the brain’s “command center.” They also had 12 percent less tissue in their occipital lobes, which is the part of the brain that processes vision and other perceptions.

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