The GLP is committed to full transparency. Download and review our 2019 Annual Report

Being poor ‘leaves a mark’ on 10 percent of your genes

| | April 24, 2019
4-16-2019 extreme poverty creditde visu shutterstock
Image: De Visu/Shutterstock
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The cycle of poverty isn’t just an economist’s tag slapped on repeat generations of poor, it is actually changing genetics.

In other words, poor eating habits associated with poverty can increase the risk of certain diseases for generations, as nutrition-linked diseases imprint their way onto swaths of the human genome.

That is according to a Northwestern University study that explores the harm of poverty in new ways and more broadly challenges the prevailing understanding of genes as immutable at the moment of conception.

“First, we have known for a long time that socioeconomic status is a powerful determinant of health, but the underlying mechanisms through which our bodies ‘remember’ the experiences of poverty are not known,” said lead author Thomas McDade.

Related article:  Scientist chases cure for her rare brain disorder using 'clear genetic blueprint'

They discovered that lower socioeconomic status is associated with levels of DNA methylation, which is the process of adding new material to a DNA molecule. That can, in turn, affect gene expression in an organism, the process by which instructions that are stored in human genes manifest, or not.

In fact, poverty leaves a mark on a not-insignificant 10% of the genes in the genome, according to the study.

Read full, original post: The effects of being poor can literally alter the human genes, study finds

Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend