ISLAMABAD – Endurance to pain may depend on your genes as scientists have found that genetic differences influence a person’s sensitivity to pain. People who feel pain less intensely could have a particular set of genes that work together to regulate it, claims a study published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

The study led by King’s College London adds to growing evidence that particular genes are involved in chronic pain and highlights this pathway as a potential target for more effective pain relief treatments for patients. The study used a new method to study and compare DNA, called `exome sequencing`, to identify genetic variations relating to pain sensitivity.

“Chronic pain is a significant personal and socio-economic burden, with nearly one in five people experiencing it at some time in their lives. Current pain treatments often have either limited efficacy or side effects for many, so the possibility of a new approach to pain relief is an exciting development,” lead researcher Dr Frances Williams said.

It is known that people who are most sensitive to pain encountered in everyday life are more likely to go on to develop chronic pain. To identify sensitivity levels, researchers tested 2,500 volunteers using a heating probe on the arm.

Volunteers were asked to press a button when the heat became painful for them, which allowed the scientists to determine individuals` pain thresholds. Exome sequencing was then used to analyse the DNA of 200 of the most pain sensitive and 200 of the least pain sensitive people.

“The next generation of sequencing will make it possible to explore these rare variants and will lead to a wave of new discoveries in biomedical research.” Xin Jin, project manager from BGI, said.

The results showed different patterns of genetic variants in each group ? the pain sensitive people had less variation in their DNA than those who were pain insensitive. “This study demonstrates the value of collaborative efforts between academia and industry. The genetic influence on normal pain processing in human volunteer populations will add to other approaches and help us prioritise potential new mechanisms for treating pain,” Ruth McKernan, Chief Scientific Officer of Pfizer`s Research Unit in Cambridge said.

Detox diets could be harmful for liver disease patients

Detox diets may not help cleanse your system and they could even be harmful, especially for people with established liver disease, say experts. About 70 per cent of more than 600 people surveyed by Hepatitis Australia thought liver cleansing diets or detox products, such as those available from pharmacies, were beneficial.

But Associate Professor Simone Strasser of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia said liver-cleansing products have no proven medical benefits and can even be harmful.

“Just doing a one-off detox, which people like to do around New Year particularly because of all the excesses of the Christmas period, has absolutely no value for the liver at all,” the Herald Sun quoted her as telling a foreign news agency. “Fat builds up in the liver cells but these diets don’t do anything for that. They are called detox diets, but there are no toxins that actually build up in the liver,” she said.

Instead, people should use this time of year to look at their overall lifestyle habits, the Sydney specialist said.

Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol consumption all year round was the key to a healthy liver.

Detox diets could even be harmful, especially for people with established liver disease, Associate Prof Strasser said. Sudden and rapid weight loss could lead to an increase in the accumulation of fat in the liver, worsening fatty liver disease, she said.

The disease causes inflammation and scar tissue and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, the same conditions caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

“People often believe the hype about rejuvenating their liver by detoxing in January however a quick fix is not the way to approach liver health,” said Hepatitis Australia chief executive Helen Tyrrell.

Blue cheese good for heart

Roquefort cheese or blue cheese, conspicuous by its mould and blue-green veins, has anti-inflammatory properties which could ward off heart diseases, says a new finding. The cheese, which is aged in caves of Southern France, could perhaps explain why the French enjoy good health despite a diet high in saturated fat, a situation dubbed the French Paradox.

A process that occurs as the cheese ripens is good for a healthy gut, helps slow arthritis, and can slow the signs of ageing, such as cellulite, according to Cambridge-based biotech company Lycotec.

Researchers led by Ivan Petyaev and Yuriy Bashmakov, found that the properties of the blue cheese worked best in acidic environments, such as the lining of the stomach, the Daily Mail reports. It suggested regular consumption by the French of Roquefort, Camembert and other moulded fermented cheeses could be one of the reasons the nation has the lowest rate of cardiovascular mortality in the developed world.