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How Functional Genomics Can Help YouEngineer Your Hormones

Do you ever wonder why you can't seem to find the motivation or energy to do what it takes to stay fit and healthy? Do you ever feel like something is wrong with your genes and hormones?

Our guest Kashif Khan is an expert in functional genomics and has been helping midlife women understand the science behind their hormones and genes. He shares with us how understanding the function of your genes can help you engineer your hormonal system, leading to better health, more energy and improved fitness!

About Kashif Khan:

Kashif Khan is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of The DNA Company, where personalized medicine is being pioneered through unique insights into the human genome. He is also the host of the Unpilled podcast.

Growing up in Vancouver, Canada in an immigrant household, Kashif developed an industrious entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. Prior to his tenure at the DNA Company, Kashif advised a number of high-growth start-ups in a variety of industries.

As Kashif dove into the field of functional genomics as the CEO of The DNA Company, it was revealed that his neural wiring was actually genetically designed to be entrepreneurial. However, his genes also revealed a particular sensitivity to pollutants.

Now seeing his health from a new lens Kashif dove further and started to see the genetic pathways that led to his own families challenges, and the opportunities to reverse chronic disease. His measure of success is not in dollars earned, but in lives improved.

In this episode, you'll learn:

• How understanding your genes can help you engineer your hormones

• What functional genomics is and how it can benefit you

• How to use genetics to optimize health and fitness

• Ways to reverse chronic diseases through genetic insights

• Tips for finding the motivation and energy to stay fit and healthy.

Don't miss out on this powerful episode with our guest Kashif Khan, Chief Executive Officer of The DNA Company and host of the Unpilled podcast. Tune in to discover how understanding your genes can help you engineer your hormones and stay fit and healthy!

(00:00): Healthcare is studying the habits of those with the genes who didn't get the disease. And teaching that to the people who don't know.

(00:11): So the big question is, how do women over 40 like us, keep weight off, have great energy, balance our hormones and our moods, feel sexy and confident, and master midlife? If you're like most of us, you are not getting the answers you need and remain confused and pretty hopeless to ever feel like yourself again. As an O B gyn, I had to discover for myself the truth about what creates a rock solid metabolism, lasting weight loss, and supercharged energy after 40, in order to lose a hundred pounds and fix my fatigue. Now I'm on a mission. This podcast is designed to share the natural tools you need for impactful results and to give you clarity on the answers to your midlife metabolism challenges. Join me for tangible, natural strategies to crush the hormone imbalances you are facing and help you get unstuck from the sidelines of life. My name is Dr. Kyrin Dunston. Welcome to the Hormone Prescription Podcast.

(01:05): Hi everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Hormone Prescription with Dr. Kyrin. Thank you so much for joining me today. My guest today is gonna shed some light on why genetics are so important when it comes to women's health, particularly over 40. We haven't focused in this way on genetics and epigenetics in the podcast. So I thought it's super important to have KIF on the podcast to really shed some light. And I wanted to start with that quote because you know, we take for granted that what we have is healthcare in America and most developed countries, and we call it that healthcare, but really it's just disease management. It's actually not the creation of health. So I love when K, she K, she says this, healthcare is studying the habits of those with the genes who didn't get the disease. And teaching that to the people who don't know.

(02:01): We used to think that there was genetic determinism after DNA sequencing was discovered several decades ago, and the Nobel Prize was awarded to Watson and Crick. And then we had this genetic determinism where all diseases determined by genes, it's predestined. It's out of our control. We don't have to worry about it. And in fact, when I practiced regular ob gyn, I would've women all the time come to me and say, oh, my mother had a hysterectomy at 45. It's time for mine as if that were genetically predetermined. It's not. In fact, genes only dictate about 10, maybe at most 20% of your health. But it's what genes get turned on that matters and what genes get turned off. And this is something called epigenetics epi, meaning above your genes. It turns them on and turns them off. So what creates health is your life habits that either turn certain genes on that you want or turn genes on that you don't want or turn bad genes off or turn good genes off.

(03:08): So it's all about epigenetics. So we're gonna dive into that in great detail. He's gonna dive into the topic of breast cancer, how it's not estrogen that causes breast cancer. Hopefully you don't believe that because all men and all women on the face of the planet have estrogen. And so if estrogen caused breast cancer, 100% of all men and all women would have it. And we don't. So it's something else. And one of the things that it is, is what your body does with that estrogen. So we're gonna dive into that and that's genetically determined. And you do have the power, you have the control to turn those genes on or turn 'em off. So which will you choose? I will tell you a little bit about Kashif and then we will get started. So Kashif is the chief executive officer and founder of the DNA company.

(03:58): We're personalized Medicine is being pioneered through unique insights into the human genome. He is also the host of the Unfilled podcast. I love that name. He grew up in Vancouver, Canada in an immigrant household. And he has an industrious entrepreneurial spirit that he's had since he was a little kid before he started the DNA company. He advised a number of high growth startups in a variety of industries, but he's really, he dove into the field of functional genomics as the CEO of the DNA company. And I really love his unique perspective on this. Sometimes we insiders can't see things the way that outsiders do and he actually not only sees it, but can articulate their certain concepts importance in a way that I think is very impactful and unique. So please welcome Kashif to the podcast. Welcome Kashif to the Hormone Prescription Podcast.

(05:00): Pleasure, honor to be with you.

(05:02): So excited to have you. I love talking about DNA and epigenetics and what people can do to turn certain genes on or off. And I don't think this really is a part of mainstream medicine yet. So women wanna hear about this. They wanna know what's out there and available for me to really make my health the best it can be at midlife and beyond. But first I gotta ask, how did you become so passionate about working with human genetics?

(05:33): Well, we, we were a research company, but bringing it to the public, actually it was a female hormone issue that got me there and it was actually with my niece. So I've had my kids, three kids and my niece genetically tested who are all close to me to understand, you know, personalized diet, fitness, even academically, how is their brain wired hormonally, how is their body developing? What sports should they play? So I've learned a lot about how to personalize the parenting for them. And what happened is my niece actually had a anxiety crisis where she just collapsed and she actually hurt herself. I had to take her to the hospital. And I realized they're just like any concern parent uncle, like I was just reacting to the problem. Oh, she has anxiety. Oh, she has pain. And I was borderline almost about to accept that pill prescription.

(06:21): And then I realized, hold on, what am I doing? I have her dna, I have a deeper understanding of her biology. And so I realized that the three times that it happened was they were about a month apart. So I asked my sister or her mom, does this have anything? Like what's the timing of the menstrual cycle? And she said, you know what? You're right. It was right before it started. Every time, right before the menstrual cycle started, this is when she had these anxiety attack and crashes where she literally fell over, couldn't breathe. So I looked at her genetics and we've mapped out the hormone cascade to a T where we understand how you produce certain hormones. To what degree, how well do you clear them? How toxic, how they are clean, are they, she was void of estrogen. She was highly androgen dominant, didn't produce enough estrogen.

(07:05): And we know that at the beginning of that hormone cycle is when you have the least estrogens, right? Then you start to make them. And if you have less to begin with, then that delta value for is even lower. Like she has this very deep belly she goes into with no hormones, no hormones, right? And so that was one thing that, why did it happen then? Well, this was two years ago in the Toronto winter during covid lockdown. And she hadn't been outside in like four months, right? This was like 2020 winter. Pure lockdown never left. So she got zero vitamin D of the 30,000 genes that make up your body, 10% of them require vitamin D to function. It's actually another hormone if you really look at it correctly. Right? And so she already had this hormone issue, which we could look at genetically.

(07:56): She wasn't getting enough vitamin D, which triggered a 10% biochemistry, chaos. And then when you look at the genetics of her brain, she doesn't bind dopamine properly. So it's very easy for her to experience depression, anxiety, negative stimulus. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and this cocktail of all these problems, plus not having gone outside for four months equaled anxiety crash. She would have been on an anxiety pill if I didn't know all this. But all we did was I gave her altheine to booster dopamine levels and I gave her 10,000 IU vitamin D in the very first week of her cycle, then 5,020 500. And we did that every month. It's been two years. She has not had this problem. Right. So when I went through that very long answer to your question mm-hmm. <affirmative> is that, that's the thing that made me go from, we are not a research company. Every woman needs this. Every woman, how many young women like her are struggling with anxiety issues? How many women are struggling, infertility issues, crazy menopause, all this stuff that's treated so gray, which is actually black and white if you understand it genetically.

(09:03): Yeah, I love that story. It's very illustrative of the power of knowing your genetics. But yes, she would've ended up in a mainstream doctor's office on an anti-anxiety medication and probably a birth control pill. Usually any symptoms that are cyclic, we gynecologists wanna put every woman on a birth control pill, which basically just shuts the whole female hormone system down. But what most women don't realize is the, the complications they're gonna have from the hormonal balances that it cause causes. So it's not the way I go now as a functional doc <laugh>. All right. So that certainly got you passionate about it. I love that story. And then what has, I mean, you're obviously an entrepreneur at heart. You, you've worked with startups in variety of industries, but it sounds like you had a personal story that really grabbed you here. And what are some other stories that you might share of how you've seen this impact women's health?

(10:07): Well, so first of all, you're right on what they said is anxiety pill plus birth control.

(10:13): Yeah.

(10:13): That was the prescription, right? And I said, no way. We're not doing that. And that's what triggered me to dive into our genome. So I can't tell you how many women, so let's look at breast cancer for example. When you think about genetics, that's probably the biggest area where women think about the genes as you know, brca the BRCA gene. And that's scary. Four letter word. And if you ask a woman, do you want bracker? No, no, no. I don't. I don't want brca. If you ask a doctor, what do you think about? Oh, scary, scary, scary. But if you ask them what does it do? They don't know, right? <laugh>, they don't even know what it means. You, you need brca. BRCA is a tumor suppressing gene. If you have, god forbid, cancer, it goes and fights it for you. That's what it does. The challenge is if you have the bad version of a variant end, it doesn't do a good job of repair.

(11:00): So either or, even if you have the worst version, it doesn't cause cancer. What it does is, does you lack the ability to fight. So we still need to ask the question, why did you get breast cancer in the first place, which is a female hormone issue that we don't understand or look at. Uh, in fact, you go to most cancer research websites and all these and they, they tell you, we actually don't know why. We're more more focused on how to treat it. So let's look at that example. Bad brer, why did you get it to begin with? This is one of many examples. So some women are, unlike my niece, the opposite. They're more estrogen dominant. So this is step one of three in that hormone cascade. You go from progesterone to testosterone to estrogen. That's what you do. There's some nuances in there.

(11:43): Other things you can do. But that's the general lame, right? Some women just convert into a heavy bucket of estrogen. That's what they do. Step two of three, you then need to create a metabolite, either two, four or 16. Hydroxy, estrogen. That's what you make it into. Two is great, nice clean stuff, four and 16, highly toxic, you don't want them, right? Then step three of three, now that you know you may be estrogen dominant and estrogen toxic, what are the detox systems that are supposed to kick in and clear that stuff and help me get rid of it, which is glutathione and ox antioxidation. Those are the two key areas. Step four, there's another step four we can look at, which is methylation, which is your antiinflammatory response. If you're not doing those things well. So if that's you estrogen dominant, estrogen toxic, I don't detoxify, you now get put in this bucket of high risk.

(12:35): But still not every woman gets sick. What happens? 85% of North American women, I can speak to North American data cuz that's where I am. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, 85% of North American women will be on a birth control pill for 10 years, right? For fielding that estrogen fire. Every woman as she reaches sort of midlife is told to get on hormone replacement therapy. Now without understanding which one and why, which is what you're so good at, right? And just, yeah, take it. Just go ahead. You're supposed to do it fueling that estrogen fire. Women have no clue for the most part, maybe not your audience, but for the most part the hormone des disruptors that they're dealing with every day, the cord and frying pan, the chemicals, the pesticides and the lawn. Everything that they're breathing and eating and coming through their skin that their body just treats as more hormones and fuels.

(13:24): That toxic fire. That's the woman for whom you have the genetic profile. And you've also made the wrong epigenetic choices unknowingly that now you feel that fire so much that it causes inflammation. So why then is menopause the time when this happens? Why is that where you find most breast cancer? Cause now all of a sudden you don't have a menstrual cycle to get rid of that monthly dose of estrogen toxicity. And your body wants to protect you. It doesn't want it free flowing in the blood, causing inflammation to your organs and your, your endothelium, your vasculature, your veins. So it goes and stores it in fat. And where do you have fat in your breasts and what's in your breasts that was never designed to deal with that level of toxic insult is all these glands to deliver milk that get inflamed, get damaged, become cancerous.

(14:13): And that's the point when BRCA is supposed to start working right now, all of a sudden the tumor supporting gene is supposed to come in and fix the damage you did. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But even then, why have cancer to begin with? If you understand this is what's happening with your hormones. If you understand these are the choices you need to make and you understand that there's a right and wrong way to do hormones for you as an individual, right? You shouldn't have ever had it in the first place. And this is all we're saying is that if you are ill, we can help or anybody can help by using functional genomics. Why? As opposed to what, then go ahead and treat, treat it. You need to do that. But let's find out also why if you're not yet Ill, let's make sure it never happens. Let's prevent all this nonsense from ever happening. Cuz you, you can be armed with the right choices.

(15:00): Boy, you brought up so many great points in there cuz sheep, let's just go back cuz that was so powerful. I hope everybody listening really heard what he's saying. So number one, you said they're only concerned with how to treat breast cancer, not why you get it. And I hope everyone heard that because it's true the pharmaceutical industry and most researchers are not overly concerned with why you got breast cancer cuz they're not interested in preventing it. They're interested in treating it because unfortunately in our capitalist society, that's where the profit is. And also you mentioned the detox pathways, the 2 4 16 hydroxy, um, estrogens. And what most women don't realize is that their regular doctor is not gonna ever check those on them. But if you heard, because she said he was saying that this is vital to know as part of why did you get breast cancer. Cuz if you're detoxifying your estrogen down negative pathways, you're more prone to making toxic metabolites that will go on to create cancer. And that includes the 24 16 issue. There are enzymes involved with that, but also the, the glutathione and the methylation. And there were so many other things important in there that you said how women are afraid of brca and I can't even remember, I took some notes on what you said to, to comment on it. Anything else you wanna add to that? Cause I think it's super important what you said.

(16:32): No, I think you're right on that the toolkit, right? When you go to the doctor, doctor doesn't have bad intentions, right? They're just limited by the tools provided to them and what they're trained on. And what they're trained on is how to treat. So even if you get into their, if you ask an oncologist or doctor that you don't tell me why, they'll say, yeah, we do. We look, is it her, her two positive? And like what kind of a But all of those things only ever lead to which treatment do you need,

(17:00): Right?

(17:01): Right. The the, the only why you'll get is what directs a drug or a treatment, not here's why you don't need to be in the hospital. That's really the answer you want. Right? Healthcare should be, how do I stay healthy <laugh>, how do I get rid of this illness? I was born healthy. Yeah. I wasn't born with breast cancer. Why did it happen? Now why does most chronic disease happen to somebody? Well, the North American average, by the way this is the American dream, is by the time you're 55 you have a chronic disease. That's the average. By the time you're 65, you have two and you spend the last 15 years of your life in treatment. That's the expectation of things that you're not born with and you don't innately have. Right? And it's so much worse for women because of the cofactor of estrogen dominance and, sorry, I should say more precisely estrogen toxicity. 66% of women will die on their first cardiovascular event with zero symptoms, zero previous warning signs. They don't even know that their cardiovascularly ill, they'll have some kind of heart attack, blockage, whatever, and they will die because there's so much more inflamed than the men. The men. It's a tiny fraction. So women have to pay so much more attention, not only to the hormone issues themselves, but all the other chronic diseases for which you're fueling a much more aggressive version of it.

(18:27): Right? That is a, a powerful point. And you're so right. And we take for granted what healthcare is because we're socialized into it from the time we're born. But if doctors really were concerned with the prevention of disease, they would be talking to you about diet, lifestyle, sleep, all these things. And it's not what we do. We've got a prescription pad. We do drugs and surgery. Drugs and surgery. And that's what we do. So the average woman is not having a BRCA test. She's not having her phase one and phase two liver enzyme detox pathways. Yeah. Uh, genetics mod profile. Done. What do you think are the most important tests for women to have when it comes to functional genomics?

(19:14): So this is self-serving, but we've built it, right? And why? The reason why we built it is cuz just like when my niece went through it, genetic tests don't serve hormones properly because you can't look at, so first of all, what does genetics? This gene means this, this gene means this, this gene means this. That's genetics, right? You got a report that tells you what version of what gene you have. And now somebody that has some knowledge will go interpret that somehow. But that's not the way the body works, especially when it comes to hormones. There's a, there's a cascade. It's not this gene does this. One step won't direct you. You need to know the full system flow. I make progesterone converted into testosterone. How quickly, how much testosterone do I make? Do I then convert that into dht? Do I clear it? Do I convert it into estrogen?

(20:00): And then what version of estrogen do I then make? So if you haven't mapped all of that out, you can't really make a call. And this is why genetics 1 0 1, which is what most genetic researchers do, hasn't really addressed hormones. Functional genomics, just like medicine is, what disease do you have? Let me give you a pill. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's what genetics is. Also functional medicine is let's figure out why you got sick to begin with and change your habits. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's what functional genomics is. Let's map the pathway in the context of the body actually works. And then we know exactly where to intervene. We can predict, we can then predict how you do all of these jobs in your body. What is, what is dna? DNA is an instruction telling yourselves what to do. If you know what version of what gene you have, you know, one job. But if you don't understand the entire assembly line and what, what everybody else is doing, can you really make a call? Functional genomics is, let's look at the full system, the pathway in the context of human biology. Like here's what the body actually does. Now let's reverse engineer the genes that instruct each step, that baton pass along the way of that process, right? So now you can take this very gray area of female hormones, which you ask any woman what her experience is medically. And it sucks, right? <laugh>, it's just like

(21:17): Universal.

(21:18): Yeah, universal. Like the answer is you're supposed to have problems. It's your hormones, right? Like it's a, you're a woman, you're supposed to have problems. That's the belief.

(21:29): That is the belief.

(21:30): And why? Because it has been mapped the way that I just described earlier. This gene means this, this, she means this, this hormone means this, this pathway means this. The entire cascade has been looked at openly as this map. Where would you then read then you can determine exactly what's going. And you make this, like I said earlier, this very gray thing, very black and white, very certain. It is that certain. And now you know exactly what risks, what problems, how to prevent and how to have a wonderful menopause, how to have wonderful fertility, how to have a great menstrual cycle, right? It can be that way. And it is now more challenging and more problematic than ever because the load of hormone disruptors and chemicals we're dealing with is more than ever before. And this is also partly why the sort of medical practice has in advance because grandma's generation didn't have the problems that this generation has because they weren't exposed to this level of chemicals and horrible food and lack of sleep and all the other things that are co-factor to these hormone problems. So it's even more important ever than than ever before today to look at it deeply.

(22:38): Yes. So I know a lot of people get very excited about tests like 23 and me, I had it done a while back when it first came out and really wasn't impressed with the action actionable information in there. I mean, I don't really need to know that I have the gene that I can smell the asparagus in my urine after I eat it. <laugh>,

(23:02): You probably know already.

(23:04): I knew that already. I don't find that very useful. And it seems like most of these tests that, that are available online, or let me just say a lot of 'em are not actionable information. How can the average woman discern among genetic tests? What's worth my time, energy, and money that's actually going to give me actionable information that's going to impact my health? How does she know that

(23:33): It has to be a functional genomics test, right? What does that mean? Genetics is what does this gene mean? And unless a gene has one singular purpose, you can't really say anything about it. Functional genomics is of the 30,000 genes in your body, there's only a hundred that matter for most chronic conditions, hormones, brain detox, diet, nutrition, and a few other things, right? So what we've done is we've created a hormone panel and in that all that, you know, so the genetics of this gene does this and your, your piece smells because of asparagus. Great. How do I make h