Sunday, March 07, 2010


I recently linked to a story from Time about changes in foxes that happened during only a few generations.

Last week, at the allergist's office, I read a related article, again from Time, about epigenetics. The topic may be the most significant medical issue most people have never heard of. Here's the "money quote":
In other words, you can change your epigenetics even when you make a dumb decision at 10 years old. If you start smoking then, you may have made not only a medical mistake but a catastrophic genetic mistake.
Of course, in these early days of research into epigenetics the studies are looking for consequences of behaviors established as unhealthy for other medical reasons. The Time article has an ongoing tone of "making unhealthy choices is worse than you thought!". Even if true, this focus neglects the frightening possibility that all sorts of behaviors we currently view as healthy might also affect epigenetics negatively.

(The Time article is much more accessible than Wikipedia's article.)

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