Tag Archives: epigenetics

Nurture begins in the womb

25 Aug
Epigenetics is the study of the chemical reactions that govern which genes get turned on or off. Wikipedia image credited to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Am I hungry? Have I just gotten sloshed? Am I in outer space?

All of these factors affect how I am feeling, and less obviously, how my genes are functioning.

If I am a pregnant lady, factors like these become critical because they impact the activation and silencing of genes that coordinate the delicate orchestration of my baby’s development.

Remember, genes are the same in all of our cells, but our cells and body parts look and behave differently because certain genes within them are switched on or off. And in order for the cells of a developing embryo to emerge is a person, genes need to be switched on and off at just the right moment.

What’s controlling these switches? It’s not the genes themselves. Epigenetic signals –(click this for great videos and articles on epigenetics from the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center) –are the conductors that cue genes in and out at just the right time. They change in function of what we eat, smoke, breathe and drink. _Read on

How we die

25 Jul

The shiny dots at the ends of these chromosomes are telomeres, the shortening "bomb fuses" that give cells expiration dates. Photo from the U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program

All roads lead to death, and we should all hope to take the scenic route.

                Some of us will pickle ourselves: We can smoke, drink, and burger our ways into Heaven.  Some of us will arrive instantaneously, let’s say, while texting.  But most of us will approach death along some kind of BINGO model.  One example:

                B: We’ve got atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries.

                I: We were born with something, like a propensity for high cholesterol.

                N: We have high blood sugar levels; G: We’re not exercising;  O: That one last cigar.

You’re expected to live about 48 million minutes: You’ve got time to read on!