Category: Classic Genes and Serology
Eye color is far more complex than is generally appreciated, ranging from blue, gray, green, green/blue, brown, and others, varying with different populations. As with skin pigmentation, eye and hair color results from the degree of melanin pigment deposited in the tissue. Humans have several eye color genes. Two best understood are named BEY2 (brown eye) located on chromosome 15 and GEY (green/blue eye) located on chromosome 19. Interestingly, the human “secretor” blood type gene is linked to the GEY gene, since they are both found on chromosome 19. This may explain why the percentage of secretors in the population rises as one heads further north, since the percentage of green and blue eyes increases as well.
There is one peculiarity of eye structure which has been used in making racial distinctions called the epicanthic eye-fold, a fold of flesh that covers the upper eyelid, and sometimes even the upper eyelashes, when the eyes are wide open. It gives the eyes a narrower appearance. It may be an evolutionary defense against both the extreme cold as well as the extreme light that occurs in the Eurasian arctic and north. It has also been suggested that the fold provides some protection against dust in areas of desert such as that found in the deserts of northern China and Mongolia as well as parts of Africa.
Although almost universal amongst Central and Northern Asians, there is a wide distribution of the epicanthic fold across the world. It is also found in significant numbers amongst Amerindians, the Khoisan of Southern Africa and some people of Sami (Lapp) origin. The presence of epicanthic folds is common in many, though not all, groups of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent. Due to classic genetics children of a parent with a pronounced epicanthic fold and one without an epicanthic fold will have varying degrees of epicanthic folds as a result. On the other hand, high orbits, with no folds, are characteristic of certain Balkan populations and of most Near Eastern peoples.
Hair texture is measured by the degree of fineness or coarseness, which varies according to the diameter of each individual hair. There are four major types of hair texture, which are fine, medium, coarse and wiry (sometimes referred to as wooly). Head hair grows at the rate of approximately 1.25 centimeters, or about 0.5 inches, per month, and it has been speculated that the significance of long head hair may be adornment leading to what evolutionary biologists call “Fisherian Runaway Sexual Selection”, in which an prospective mate’s health is gauged by lustrous hair, leading to a greater rate of selection for those individuals with the gene –the same mechanism that probably led to those beautiful peacock feathers.
Scalp hair varies tremendously between races; the scalp hair of most Asians has the greatest thickness and the roundest cross-section, which produces a thick, straight hair. In Europeans the hair is more oval and finer; in Negroes it is flattened, resulting in small wiry, or “kinky” curls. There are at least three kinds of kinky hair. There is short kinky hair that covers the whole scalp evenly, as with most African peoples. There is short kinky hair that grows in tufts with seemingly bare spaces between, as in some East African groups. Then there is the longer kinky hair of the peoples of the Southwest Pacific islands. The hair of the Australian Aborigines is curly or wavy, except for one small group in Queensland who have what is called "frizzy" hair, or hair that is slightly kinky. It has been speculated that wiry hair texture has an advantage in being difficult to penetrate by stinging insects and tends to wick sweat effectively, keeping it away from the face, two distinct benefits in hot, humid environments. Only persons of African descent usually have this type of hair, although some Europeans can have extremely curly or frizzy hair.
Blonde hair is produced by an absence of melanin and may be attempt to optimize UV penetration of the scalp (maximizing vitamin D levels in the northern climes)
Having red hair is associated with the recessive version of the MC1R gene on chromosome 16, which also codes for fair skin and freckles. Four out of five redheads have this gene variant, which is found at its greatest frequency in Scotland and Ireland. Some authorities suggest that red-haired people may be descendents of a blending of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon peoples while others suggest that the gene is more recent, well after the human migration from Africa, so that the geographical distribution of red hair would be due to post-glacial expansions from Europe.
The tendency of the two eyebrows to blend over the nose, called “concurrency” is found in its highest frequency in the Middle East, but is also common among Southern Europeans.
The summer of 1968 beckoned and looked very promising. Balmy days for us kids often spent butterfly collecting, trading comic books, listening to baseball on the radio, and playing afternoon stickball, a uniquely New York City street game involving a stick --usually appropriated from an unwatched broom-- and a hard pink rubber ball manufactured by the AJ Spaulding Company universally referred to as a “Spalldeen.”
However my dreams for such a bucolic near future came to a screeching halt one afternoon when I was greeted by my little brother at the door with news that we would all soon be flying in an airplane! That sounded exciting enough, but further elaboration disclosed a darker truth: We would be flying to the village of my mother’s birth in North East Spain. My knowledge of the place was minimal at best: I had only seen rather quaint photographs with scallop-cut edges of what appeared to be a ramshackle, sleepy and sun baked town populated by sunburned farmers with dazzling white teeth clustering around a new tractor, scooter or calf. It looked foreign, smelly and somewhat ominous.
Soon enough we headed for the airport to begin our journey. Modern, security-frazzled, airline customers may not realize or remember just how much of an event traveling by airplane was in the mid 1960’s. Washed and scrubbed, wearing rayon shirts and thin ties, mother in Sunday best complete with pill box hat, we journeyed the Atlantic in the marvelous Boeing 707.
Fully jet-lagged we landed many hours later at Barcelona airport and were greeting by a deputation from the village, 150 screaming, waving and wildly gesticulating Catalans, for this was, as I would soon be told “Catalonia, not Spain.” From Barcelona we soon began our travels westward, into the Llobregat river valley and the mountains of the Montserrat, strangely carved peaks that are the results of eons of erosion by now-extinct giant rivers. This is an enchanted land; not for nothing are Catalan artists overrepresented in the Surrealist art movement.
Winding down roads of choking dust, we made our way to the town, or pueblo. Until then having grown up in the restrained, plasticized and sanitized habits that characterized the USA in the 1960’s, I was in now way prepared for the coarse, almost brusque mannerisms of these folks. The gesticulated wildly, seemed to argue about everything, screamed at each other from their windows and talked at an amazingly rapid-fire rate of delivery. It’s phenomenally fertile land, and the local people are rumored to be the only people in Spain who can “make bread out of stones.” The closest town, which is at the border between Catalonia and Aragon, was described as being “renowned for its figs, and the thick-headedness of the inhabitants.”
Culture shock soon set in. A shy kid to start off, I was soon just happy to find a quiet place and read my bon voyage present, a huge book on the Battle of Gettysburg. Unlike my little brother, who was muy sympatico, eating in the café and yelling at the soccer games on the one TV like everyone else, I just felt alienated. One had to be careful with their choice of friends. The headless automaton jumping around my aunt’s kitchen spurting blood all over the place was just shortly before the chicken with two different colored eyes that I had so carefully observed that morning. Cute, friendly rabbits were soon rendered into grotesque hanging parodies of the “visible body” model that I had built that Christmas.
Being the wonderful people that they are, my family soon began to try to get me to come out of my shell. One of my uncles took notice of my liking of history, and soon we were off in his tiny car, visiting Visigoth and Roman ruins. Another uncle, a simple but lovable farmer, would take me out to his fields, hold a finger up to his lips so as to say “let’s keep this secret to ourselves” and begin pushing aside sagebrush, rubble and other weeds, revealing a lovely Roman husband and wife gravestone. Gradually, I began to open up to this wonderfully simple and pure world.
Around midday we would break for lunch and siesta, which never varied all that much; a medium sized fish, called a “sardine”, stuck on a branch and placed around perimeter of a small fire, some olives and almonds from the field, followed by a peach or pear. Since it was still too hot to go back to work we’d look at clouds or the distant hills and at one point I asked him what lay beyond those hills.
“Saragossa.” He said.
“And beyond that?”
“And beyond that?”
“The Basques. But they are different than us, and a little crazy.”
It would take a lot for a Catalan to call someone else “different”, and to a Catalan, the Basques may well be the only qualifying group. Like the Catalans, the Basques are very independent minded, with great cultural sensitivity and were consequently heavily repressed during the Franco dictatorship. Similarly, they have experienced a phenomenal cultural renaissance in the years following his death.
An ancient people, or more correctly a “people island,” they have resisted virtually all attempts at assimilation, forced or otherwise. In the Basque language there is no name for “Basque”. There is a name for the language that Basques speak, Euskera and a Basque is simply defined as a Euskaldun, someone who speaks Euskera.
But we would have to go back farther still to get a grip on the Basques. You have to go back to a very cold, dry time without agriculture. The Basques, you see, are sort of living fossils, probably the most direct link we genetically possess to a distinct people that can be traced back to the Pleistocene Age.
The upper right-hand corner of Spain has some of the most interesting dialects to be found in the world over such a small piece of geography. Catalan, the language of my family, is an ancient Latin derived tongue, probably closer to the Latin of the Romans than either modern day French or Spanish.
For a romance language, Catalan has a surprising number of consonants, with the free use of the letter x as an example. But for all its unique qualities, Catalan is a relative newcomer, the Romans having inhabited the area roughly two-thousand years ago. Prior to that the population was a hybridization of two earlier groups, rather short, dark haired and eyed indigenous people, called Iberians and taller, lighter transplanted Celts who arrived a few hundred years prior to the Romans in search (like their modern-day counterparts) of a warmer climate. These two groups intermingled freely, fused and produced what historians called the “Celt-Iberians.”
Yet these modern languages are distinct from Basque Euskera or any of the Semitic or African languages as well. English with it clipped and nasally sounds; German with its guttural mega words; French, with its mellifluous hints of romance and Hindi, with its beautiful Sanskrit writing all share Indo-European as a common ancestor.
Been very busy with the redesign of the NAP website. Part of the problem is that I am Perl/PP/Unix centered and the NAP software and server are ASP Microsoft .NET. No matter, I enjoy learning this kind of stuff.
Generated quite a bit of new content. NAP needed simple FDA compliant explanations for the GenoType Diet formulas, and I wanted to release some additional information on the GenoType profiles that had been prepared for the book but not used. So I combined both jobs these into six monographs:
Last night I gave a second lecture at the Wilton Library. This was sponsored by the library and open to the general public, so I was surprised and pleased to see standing room only. Despite the fact that I wasn't exactly feeling all that terrific (exhaustion from doing 17 radio interviews the day before and perhaps a bit of food poisoning as well) I gave what I think was one of my best lectures ever. Funny how all the fatigue, aches and pains disappear in me when it's time to talk about this material. Expression really is the best medicine. Signed a lot of books, which were supplied by the local town book shoppe, who sold out their stock. This is a really good thing since Wilton is one of the few towns that still has a local bookseller, versus most towns with their B&Ns and Borders, who have taken over the industry.
Random House has made available a small number of signed first editions of The GenoType Diet. You can read more about it here. They cost a bit more than the jacket price of the book, but I will be donating any of my royalties to a wonderful charity in Africa that helps women develop entrepreneurial skills. Teach an person to fish.. and all that.
Yesterday featured an interesting day of sorts. The amazon.com 'Health Bestsellers' featured 5 books that I have written as part of their top 25 bestselling health books. Cool.
Got a very nice note from Professor Gerhard Uhlenbruck, who had received his copy of The GenoType Diet. The good professor (the only scientist I have meet who has read Emil Cioran) shared these thoughts:
When I worked in the earlier sixties at the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, my famous teacher, Prof. Dr. W.T.J. Morgan, who elucidated the biochemical structure of the ABH(O) and Lewis blood group antigens, used to say at various occasions: "Its all in the genes!". In fact, having experience in more than 50 years in clinical science and immunochemical research, I was so often confronted with this sentence, that it became a credo to me with the value of a proverb, which explained so many phenomena of patients and their very different reactivity to the susceptibility of illnesses, chronic diseases and early aging processes. When I first heard of Peter D'Adamo's blood group diet, of course I was very skeptical: Should we have missed in our book (Prokop/ Uhlenbruck: Human Blood and Serum Groups) such an important aspect? But years later, my interest switched to the nutritional field while working on the so-called Metabolic Syndrome, my interest increased in studying the role of genes in metabolic processes. I found out, that Peter D'Adamo's blood group orientated diet could probably be a first step in the right direction, however it could not be the whole story.
So I was not surprised at all, when now a book on The Genotype Diet by him was published as a next step in this new area. And I am sure it will not be the last one by him, as the role of genes and a subsequent personal, individual view of illness, diseases and health, including aging problems, has widened the approach of medical treatment, lifestyle change and a healthy nutrition.. We all live driven by our genes, sometimes feeling to suffer under their government,, and sometimes having the wish to change over our genetic outfit, to jump over the hurdle of genes or to influence their expression. Fat is not fate! I can confirm Peter D'Adamo in so far, as I have own experience in sport medicine, exercise immunology and in treating the Metabolic Syndrome.
According to the vision of D'Adamo, it seems also to me, that we can switch on the "good genes" and turn off the bad ones. In this context we must keep in mind that more than fifty percent of all illnesses are due to an inadequate nutrition. We know now much about anti-aging genes, which can be influenced by lifestyle (exercise) or by nutrition (as a curious example the action of red winew has been investigated). Looking on Peter D'Adamo's six Genotypes, being a medical doctor too, I must admit and I am a little bit amused, that one has so often met such types in the general medical practice. In any case, the book of D'Adamo is very stimulating, full of new ideas and creative concepts. Of course it will rise criticism and controversy, but at least I have observed, that people are very faithful to these diet suggestions, much more than to other diet programs: Who heals is right?
The sentence "Its all in the genes" has to be enlarged in that way that "its all in genes we ca influence". In this respect, Peter D'Adamo's approach is very optimistic, but this may be good in order to motivate people. To alter the genetic destiny is an old dream of mankind. What can be done in this direction, is limited but very understandably outlined in this book, written in a fascinating language and produced with many pictures and tables. It demonstrates also the profound knowledge of the author, its not a superficial "quicky", but with the aim not to become something like a dogmatic "bible", but a guidance book: Health as a creative process by activating personal thoughts and ideas about a longer healthy life, which is not permanent under the threat of disease. Life-style change means a revolution in the
personal life history.
We generally have the freedom to decide on our health. This book is showing a way, walking this way we must do alone, personally, guided by the genes we activate or suppress. Let me put it together: A person can keep healthy, fit and wise, by doing his diet and daily exercise! What motivates him maybe modified individually and in future. So I can recommend this book of my colleague as a start for a personal, individual life-style change. And
for that it is never too late.
What I so like about this guy (and surprisingly for an academic) is that he understands that there is a bigger game to be played, a greater goal to be achieved, in writing books such as the GTD than just winning some sort of nebulous intellectual argument between scholars. That is important too, but more often than not it is also irrelevant.
Who heals is right. Gotta love that.
Click on the image to listen to this broadcast.
A one-hour interview of Dr. Peter DAdamo by Cary Nostler of KSTE Radio, Sacramento California. The discussion includes the basics of blood type dieting, and how it lead to the development of Dr. D'Adamo's interest in epigenetics and The GenoType Diet.