Highlight: Do our choices or our genes impact the development & progression of AMD?

You may have gotten an email yesterday about this post which said it was password protected.  I keep forgetting that putting a password on a page while it’s being developed doesn’t work to stop an early email.  Sorry!

Facebook group member Vickie Hoecherl (a link to her new Guest Author page below) has gone through the December 2017 article from the award-winning lecture by well-respected and widely-published Dr. Johanna M. Seddon and has shared with the group members some of the researcher’s quotes.   Click here for the full article “Macular Degeneration Epidemiology: Nature-Nurture, Lifestyle Factors, Genetic Risk, and Gene-Environment Interactions – The Weisenfeld Award Lecture”.


Do our choices impact the progression of AMD?  How much of our future is written in our genetic code

Note: If you see (), we’ve left out statistics from Dr. Seddon’s article. You can see them in the full article. Also, we’ve added topic headings to the researcher’s quotes. 
Nature vs. nurture

“Our analyses showed that a high proportion of AMD was attributable to genetics, with heritability ranging from 46% to 71%, depending on the stage of the disease. More advanced disease, as well as larger drusen and greater drusen area measuring 175 μm or larger were highly heritable, with estimates of 71%. The environmental influence on this disease is also notable (19% to 37%). Therefore, both nature and nurture were important in the development of AMD.”

Stop smoking

“The leading modifiable risk factor is cigarette smoking.”

Eat your greens, know your fats

“. . . . a higher frequency of intake of spinach or collard greens was associated with a substantially lower risk for AMD. Results suggested an 88% lower risk with higher intake, defined as eating a one-half cup serving at least five times per week. Other foods that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin include dark green leafy vegetables, kale, turnip greens, and collard greens.”

“High total fat intake was associated with almost a three-fold higher risk of progression and saturated and trans-unsaturated fats conferred over a 2-fold higher rate of progression from nonadvanced to advanced stages of AMD. Higher intake of omega-3 fats, which are found in high levels in fish and some nuts, reduced risk of progression to advanced AMD by 25% to 40%, particularly among participants with lower linoleic acid intake.”

Supplements weigh in

“Supplements containing vitamin C, E, zinc, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin are now recommended for individuals with intermediate-level AMD”

Get out the tape measure

“We also evaluated modifiable anthropometric factors, including BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio, in our prospective cohort. A BMI defined as obese (≥30) was significantly associated with a higher risk of progression to advanced stages of AMD (), as was the overweight classification (). A significant trend was observed for higher risk with higher BMI (). The highest tertile of waist circumference significantly increased risk of progression () compared with the lowest tertile. A higher waist-to-hip ratio also increased risk of progression (). In contrast, higher levels of physical activity tended to reduce risk of progression. ”

Genes effect on occurrence and progression

“Genes conferring AMD risk are not only related to the occurrence of AMD as found in case-control studies, but we also found they are important in determining the rate of progression of disease over time, from early and intermediate stages to advanced clinical phenotypes.”

Genes and diet can interplay

“We found the highest quintile of omega-3 intake was associated with a lower risk of progression to geographic atrophy, when compared with the lowest intake, and this beneficial effect was noted particularly among individuals who carried the homozygous risk genotype for ARMS2 (). No protective effect was observed for the ARMS2 homozygous nonrisk genotype. ”

“Additional gene-diet differences were observed with regard to high adherence to a Mediterranean diet (). High adherence reduced the risk of progression to advanced AMD, and specifically among those individuals carrying at least one nonrisk allele at CFH Y402H (). There was no effect of the Mediterranean diet on risk of progressing to advanced AMD among individuals carrying the CFH homozygous risk genotype (CC).”

“In our diet-gene evaluation of dietary folate, high consumption of dietary folate was significantly associated with a lower risk of progression (). We found a protective effect of higher folate intake against progression to geographic atrophy, particularly among individuals carrying the C3 R102G homozygous nonrisk genotype (). The beneficial effect of folate was not observed for those carrying at least one risk allele (G) at this locus.”

“We also recently reported that participants with the highest quintile of dietary vitamin D intake had a significantly lower risk of progression to advanced stages of AMD, and especially NV. This effect also may vary according to genotype.”


Read about Vickie’s journey with AMD

 

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That Preachy Zealot

Here she is again, that preachy zealot for clean living! How are you all doing?

I was looking for new info on AMD and I found this article.

I know I harp on this topic ad nauseam but seeing this in the new releases I could not help myself. I am basically weak (and can be profoundly irritating?).

Anyway, a recent article on nature.com presented research suggesting AMD does not like clean-living folks. People working on the Blue Mountain Eye Study evaluated a group in the late 1990s and then again 15 years later. They looked at physical activity, diet, smoking and alcohol consumption as it relates to AMD. After all was said and done, the researchers decided it would be helpful if people could be encouraged to engage in good health habits.

They quoted data that women who eat well, are physically active and don’t smoke are three times less likely to develop AMD than women who do not have a healthy lifestyle. If you add the complement factor H at risk allele into the mix, the poor souls who eat crap, don’t exercise and smoke really don’t have much of a chance of dodging the disease at all.

What I just quoted was an older study, CAREDS. It used only women. The Blue Mountain people decided to replicate it but to include both genders. They also added alcohol consumption as a variable.

Blue Mountain concluded the combined effects of the four, healthy living variables were better than only one of the habits alone. They hypothesized each of the healthy habits helps to reduce oxidative stress and therefore reduce inflammation, generally thought to be a huge factor in the development of AMD.  [Lin/Linda: Sue talks explains what oxidative stress in her page Electron Rustlers.]

In addition, good health habits can affect the density of macular pigment. Thicker macular pigment can be protective. And BTW, levels of macular pigment can be negatively affected by obesity.

Since I always like to support our friends Down Under, I am making a pitch for healthy living just like the Blue Mountain people. Avoiding bad habits and developing good ones can decrease your chances of developing AMD. It can also reduce the rate of progression of the disease.

Hard to change habits? Absolutely. I am a carbs and salt girl. Horrible for me, but that is what I crave. I have never been a fruit eater.

However, since getting my diagnosis I am drinking a cup of fruit juice every morning. Enough of a change? I doubt it but at least I feel as if I am making the effort.

How long does it take to establish a habit? Google says 66 days. If you can change one thing in your lifestyle and stick with it for 66 days, you have dealt a blow against AMD. Lifestyle changes are one way we can take some of our power back from this disease. Worth a try. Continue reading “That Preachy Zealot”

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