16 April 2015

Epigenetic Inheritance

Epigenetics, the newest science of all, lifts the lid on the old conundrum "nature or nurture". It turns out to be partly both. But we've always known that instinctively haven't we?
Several years ago scientists mapped the entire human genome, the rules for human physical and mental development. From that we learned that we inherit equal amounts of genes from each of our parents. No surprise then that we look and act a bit like mum and dad.
Epigenetics reveals that our destiny is not cast in stone. If we have the will we have the power to influence the extent to which inherited genes are triggered in our lifetime. Every thought, every mouthful, every step, changes gene expression and therefore our future. Genetics loads the gun but Epigenetics pulls the trigger.
1880 famine records in Sweden combined with birth and death records, showed that children and even grandchildren had longer life expectancy. The gene responsible for switching metabolism to 'survival mode' was activated, then bequeathed in genetic code to future generations.
Psychotherapists found that not only did Holocaust survivors come to them for counselling but almost all their children did too, even though those children were born long after the Holocaust. The gene for trauma had been activated and passed on.
Some organ transplant recipients report sudden changes in food preference, habits even hobbies. This adds weight to the notion that DNA molecules carry not only the building blocks of life itself... but how to live it too.

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