Headliners: Of diets, dope and DNA

Headliners: Of diets, dope and DNA McGill University

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McGill Reporter
November 9, 2006 - Volume 39 Number 06
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Home > McGill Reporter > Volume 39: 2006-2007 > November 9, 2006 > Headliners: Of diets, dope and DNA


Of diets, dope and DNA

Eat your greens

As reported in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, Pediatrics Professor Rima Rozen's yearlong study demonstrated that mice on diets low in folic acid were at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Of the 137 rodents in the study, those who were given diets deficient in folic acid, which is found in leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits, had a one-in-four chance of developing intestinal tumors. Folic Acid — a B vitamin known as folate — is essential in maintaining DNA integrity during division and has been shown to prevent some types of heart disease. Rozen was quick to point out that, despite folic acid's apparent benefits, people shouldn't start gorging on kale and grapefruit any time soon. As always, moderation is the best policy.

Pounding home the message

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Dick Pound, Chancellor
NIcolas Morin

It seems everyone has an opinion about Chancellor Dick Pound, as was plain to see in recent profiles of him in the Boston Globe and Toro magazine. As the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, the outspoken, shoot-from-the-hip Pound was called everything from "a giant" and "the right guy at the right time for the right job," to "irresponsible" and a "recidivist violator of ethical standards." Not surprisingly, his harshest critics seem to be the very athletes whose names are most often linked to performance-enhancing drugs. Don't lose any sleep for the Chancellor, who said, "I'm more than happy to be known by the enemies I've made."

At the epicenter of epigenetics

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Moshe Szyf, pharmacology professor
Claudio Calligaris

Pharmacology prof and trailblazing researcher Moshe Szyf was featured in a cover story on epigentics in Discovery magazine. Once scorned by some in the scientific establishment for adhering to his belief that our DNA is not as unalterable as was thought, Szyf now finds himself the respected patriarch of this burgeoning field. The article also highlighted the work of Psychiatry Professor Michael Meaney, a frequent Szyf collaborator. Meaney discussed the duo's revolutionary study on how maternal licking could alter the expression of a rat pup's DNA.

More bad news for diabetics

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Steven Grover, director of McGill's Health Improvement Program
Owen Egan

He doesn't want to be the bearer of bad news, but Steven Grover has a job to do. The director of McGill's Cardiac Health Improvement Program, Grover has words of warning for people suffering from diabetes — the disease may be prematurely aging your heart, kidneys and nervous system. Quoted in the National Post, the good doctor says that diabetes, always considered one of the high-risk factors for heart attack and stroke, is significantly harder on your heart than smoking.

Good judges of character, those Brits

Finally, it ain't bragging if someone else says it, right? In a recent travel article in the U.K.'s Guardian Unlimited, McGill was referred to as "Montreal's smartest university." Aw shucks, we're blushing — McGill red, of course.

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