A simple epigenetic digression

Ran across this in one of my random digressions in cyberspace:

A complete map of the chemical switches governing the operation of a human genome has been plotted for the first time, further extending the reach of medical research. [These switches] turn human genes on and off, potentially affecting every function of the body … and have previously been shown to be affected by a person’s lifestyle and environment, with some changes being passed on to subsequent generations. (Discovery News)

I’m intrigued by statements like this. You mean to tell me that the lifestyle we choose to live can make changes in us at a genetic level, even changes that can be passed along to another generation? So what kinds of things might I do that actually change me at a fundamental level? My guess is that the learned ones of science are pondering that very question. Food preferences, exercise, stress management, all figure into the puzzle of what is called “epigenetics,” the science of determining how genes are activated or deactivated by certain chemical switches in a process called DNA methylation. Elsewhere I found…

Several studies have established that lifestyle choices can definitely affect your genetic predispositions, especially diet, stress and drugs…Scientists suspect your grandparents set certain DNA referees that remain active in your body today. (Fitness Plus Magazine)

Things that make you go, “Hmmmm…”

I’m not going to spend a lot of time plunging down this rabbit-hole just now, but I wonder how much remains to be discovered about how “hardwired” we are? Can these epigenetic influences have something to do with Bible verses like, ” …visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”? Or can we, by persevering in certain behaviors, literally switch on a genetic tendency that makes it all the more difficult to discontinue those behaviors. Can this be a complicating factor in addictions? Sexual preference? Self-defeating behaviors? Vulnerability to disease? And if so, can making lifestyle changes actually altar us at a fundamental level-reverse some of those things, not only for us but for our children?

Just asking…

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