Suracell: Personal Genetic Health

vitaminsNutrigenomics hasn’t been on my radar much lately until today when I discovered the Suracell Inc. Blog written by COO/CIO Derek Hornby. Suracell offers a 3-part program:

  1. Science – DNA analysis
  2. Repair - nutraceutical formulations
  3. Core Nutrition - AM/PM nutrition formulas

Both the formulations and formulas are vitamin supplements. The formulations target specific organ systems such as heart & vascular health, bone & joint health, and blood sugar and body fat control while the “nutrition formula” is a horse pill* made-up of over 70 vitamins, minerals and enzymes – one for the morning, one for the evening. Can’t say I’m too keen on taking so many vitamins on a daily basis given recent data published in JAMA from a meta-analysis of 68 studies that showed vitamin supplements to be ineffective at best, deadly at worst.

The idea of using DNA information to personalize nutrition and diet recommendations is controversial to say the least. In July 2007, Representative Gordon Smith of the Senate Special Committee on Aging called the nutritional genomics industry, “a fradulent mutation” of genetic science. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in their report that home DNA tests are unreliable and misleading.

When considering the landscape of unqualified health products available, I’m not sure nutrigenetic testing is any more misleading than all the other crazy fitness and diet stuff you see on TV. I don’t see the Senate kicking up a fuss about Sole Detox Pads for cleansing your body of harmful toxins or the Vibro Power Belt for slimming. Granted, the idea of collecting DNA causes more anxiety considering issues of genetic privacy. I hope consumers of nutrigenomic tests realize the risk when they apply buccal brush to cheek. (Although you could simply order a test anonymously.)

In any case, I think it’s a great move for Suracell to create a blog. If it devolves into a PR campaign, however, few would read it. Hopefully, the blog will give the company greater transparency. Other genetic testing companies have successfully gone blogging, including DNA Direct Talk, and Suracell would do well to stimulate general discussion about genetic influences on health as influenced by nutrition. Featuring client stories as well as other posts by Dr. Vincent Giampapa, their Chairman and Chief Science Officer, and other geneticists on their team would make the blog particularly interesting.

Also, thanks to Derek for supporting my quest to gain access to embargoed materials at EurekAlert! I’ll be keeping an eye on you!

*OK, I really don’t know how big the pills are.

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    • Lisa Lee

      Hi Hsien! It’s always nice to hear the word “successful” when it’s mentioned in relation to my blog. What’s the adage? Critics are a dime a dozen… :-) Lisa

    • Geoffrey Leigh

      As a practising consultant in functional medicine 26 years, prescribing only Metagenics (Australia) products (who are totally committed to Nutrigenomics) with oustanding results, because in part one has been utilising a simplified form of what approximates nutrigenetics devised By William Donald Kelley with degrees in biology, chemistry, biochemistry and dentistry overcame his own Pancreatic cancer (a most deadly form) through applied nutrition and in particular eating to his specific “metabolic type.” Dr. Kelley is known therefore, as the father of “Metabolic Typing.”
      Here is a short extract, more by request
      Over thousands of years of evolutionary history, people in different parts of the world developed very distinct nutritional needs in response to a whole range of variables, including climate and geography and whatever plant and animal life their environment had to offer.

      As a consequence, people today have widely varying nutrient requirements, especially with regard to macronutrients (minerals) – the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and oils that are the fundamental “building blocks,” that is, the compounds most essential to life.

      For example, many people native to and who currently inhabit tropical or equatorial regions have strong hereditary need for diets high in carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes. These foods provide the kind of body fuel that is most compatible with the unique body chemistry of people who are genetically programmed to lead active lifestyles in warm and humid regions of the world. Their systems are simply not designed to process or utilize large quantities of animal protein and fat.

      Conversely, people native to and from cold, harsh northern climates are not genetically equipped to survive on light vegetarian food. They tend to burn body fuel quickly, so that they need heavier foods to sustain themselves. For example the Inuit (Eskimo) can easily digest and assimilate large quantities of heavy protein and fat – the very type of foods that would overwhelm the digestive tracts of people from, say the Mediterranean basin.

      The bottom line is that a diet considered healthful in one part of the world is frequently disastrous for people elsewhere in the world.

      Note: a very comprehensive questionnaire sorts out and identifies 3 basic types; protein dominanat, carbohydate dominant and balanced. Clinically one has yet to find a more program with better outcomes for the patient

    • Geoffrey Leigh

      In article please edit:replace nutrigenetics with nutrigenomics