Friday, January 5, 2007

More on epigenetics

Parents May Pass Along Not Just DNA Richmond Times-Dispatch/LEF 1/3/07 "Until recently, researchers believed that DNA was "stripped bare" of its markers and switches in each new birth. Work by Randy Jirtle of Duke University demonstrates that switch settings can be passed along to offspring...Subtle environmental changes can add to or remove methyl groups (the switches) from DNA. Diet, vitamins, smoke, poisons, toxins and stress all play a role. As a result, a woman transmits environmental as well as DNA information to her fetus at conception...After birth, parental care and love for an infant releases serotonin in the brain, which alters genomic switches, reducing stress and shaping behavior for life...Implications for social policy abound in this. Whole classes of individuals (criminals and the poor, for example) have been dismissed by our society as "having bad genes" and "doomed for life." Epigenetics carries a hope that there are changes possible, such as with diet, green tea, and vitamins, as well as in designed-to- purpose drugs that may reset some of the inherited epigenetic switches and cause dramatic, positive, lifelong change. "

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