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DNA: our Achilles heel

I just feel I’ve made a small break through in my understanding of health and disease and the role DNA plays in it. It’s probably something really obvious that was explained to me years ago but I feel like noting it all the same.

It’s really inspired by all the info that I’ve heard over the years and I just feel I put it all together into an explanation that fits all.

Basically I pictured the role of DNA in our cells. It’s a code that is used to build all that a cell needs to survive. Importantly it holds the info for a cell to fix itself. There are a lot of mechanisms in place to ensure that this code doesn’t get corrupted. If it does then the code slowly becomes useless or even begins to code for things that can threaten the life of the cell or the entire body. i.e. become cancerous.

It came to me when I was thinking about how best to recover from a sports injury. A lot of the experts I listen to really base their treatment around promoting the bodies own recovery processes rather than using anything man made. This highlights the importance and quality of what we all have inside us. It also highlights how dependent we are on these processes.

The problem then is if these begin to break down. So the question is how would that be possible. This is more poignant than just determining whether someone recovers from an injury. I believe that the answer to this is what controls the healing process for pretty much any cell damage. From sun/skin damage, to bone, to muscle, to nerve.

In essence the healing mechanisms all seem to originate from the same place, the code within the DNA and so the extent to which this is protected will determine how well each cell in the body recovers from injury and disease and in my view it determines the quality and length of life of the individual. That is yet to be proven but it’s my view.

So how could the DNA code get ruined?

I think the knowledge in that area is growing but it comes down to

  • internal corruption
  • external attack

Internal corruption

By internal corruption I simply mean mistakes in the code that could be introduced in just one of the many billion times the code is transcribed to produce new materials. It could be that the DNA itself is simply copied wrongly. This may only affect the particular item made from this bad copy but if that copy is reused many times then the effects of the mistake could easily multiply. I believe there are other methods but I don’t remember them at this point and I don’t have the energy to google them.

External attack

External attack means factors such as viruses, ultraviolet light or oxidants within the cell altering the DNA code itself or the copying process. I understand that more and more viruses are being identified that alter the DNA and cause illnesses, particularly cancer.

Altering DNA leads to cancer

What I notice most is that those things that cause cancer all seem to be related to DNA altering processes. Skin cancer being affected by ultraviolet light which may damage DNA, cervical cancer being caused by the human papilloma virus, which changes the DNA of the cervical cells, anti-oxidants, which seem to affect DNA.

Debates, I believe, revolve around all these areas but the logic does seem very sound to me. Every time the body wants to repair itself it looks to its DNA at some point. So any time that DNA is affected is going to effect the ability to repair. Since each cell has it’s own DNA it means there are literally triillions of cells in your body that all have the potential to go wrong at any time.

Protect your DNA

To me this says work closely with your body and do those basic things that ensure your body can protect it’s DNA. If you do this then it doesn’t matter so much if you live a little and make mistakes. As long as the body is well stocked in nutrients, is regularly pushed to encourage regrowth, yet has plenty of rest to allow for the regrowth, you’re doing the best you can.

I feel these basic factors are so much more important than so many of the other things we are recommended all the time. For example I don’t think there’s much worth in flooding the body with anti-oxidants to fight all the oxidants. I’ve read critiques that suggest that anti-oxidants can wreak just as much havoc and I believe them. I don’t agree with such reductionist talk based on individual nutrients. I simply believe that the body is generally the best judge of what is right and wrong and it’s in our interests to help it but also let it get on with what it does.

Keep your balance

I feel by pushing yourself when you feel ready and then giving yourself time to recover. Just building this into your life. Feeding yourself when you need it but not when you don’t. Just maintaining the balance all the time. Just do that and your body will take care of itself. It’s funny. I read so much and there’s so much research going on. And I end up saying just work with your body and let it do what it does best.

That said there are times when our body does not know best. I think that as we age all our bodies begin making more and more mistakes in their DNA. So I expect that in time we’ll begin to find ways to correct our DNA and improve our healing processes. I understand they’re already investigating this by using the ability of viruses to inject their own DNA into ours. They’re getting the viruses to inject DNA that we want to add rather than what the virus wants to add. I think this is a good concept and it a natural progression from our traditional inoculation based approaches. It’s another version of using natures tools rather than inventing our own which is just what we should be doing.

So in time I think things could really lookup for us. If we’re able to reliably correct our DNA then maybe we will begin to see the end of things like cancer and the beginning of exceptionally long life spans with limited or no disease. Life spans that we’d all want to have.

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