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Clues emerging about Arctic gene, diet and health


Now, there is evidence that the historic diet based on foods like muktuk and seal and walrus meat has been imprinted on the genes of Inupiat, Yupik and other northern peoples, with health effects that are potentially dangerous for babies and young children but potentially helpful for adults.At issue is a gene that produces a key enzyme used in the liver: carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A, or CPT1A for short.The enzyme is needed in the process that burns fat for energy within the liver. It allows the body to switch between burning glucose -- the simple sugar broken down from carbohydrates -- and burning body fat. The CPT1A gene in some far-north indigenous people dramatically slows the burning of stored fat, preventing the body from getting the energy it needs to function.

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