[W]e’re finding out that our DNA isn’t always set in stone. Now, a team of researchers from Northwestern University led by anthropology professor Thom McDade have shown that DNA can also be modified by your environment during childhood. What’s more […] those modifications can affect how or when you develop certain illnesses during adulthood.
Their investigation followed more than 500 children in the Philippines and found that certain childhood situations can create modifications in genes associated with inflammation, which affects how prone we are to suffer from certain illnesses. Specifically, these factors included socioeconomic status, the prolonged absence of a parent, the duration of breastfeeding, birth during the dry season, and exposure to microbes in infancy.
The authors determined that the childhood environment of these youths affected the level of inflammation-related proteins (biomarkers) in their blood during adulthood, likely as a result of methylation of some of their inflammation-related genes. The dysregulation of these proteins can affect health and risk of disease.
This is […] one of the first and most complete investigations that show that epigenetic modifications created by the environment have lasting effects on human health.
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