Epigenetics: Something to Give Thought to
Epigenetics is the study of how environmental factors can influence the manner in which cells express certain genes. Before epigenetic changes were discovered, it was believed that your overall behavior including eating habits, any drug use, or anything of that nature had no effect upon your descendants.
However, after the discovery of epigenetics it is now unclear how much of an impact your lifestyle may have upon your children and even your grandchildren. Whether or not epigenetic changes can be passed on remains a point of contention among biologists, but early experimentation does show that it is a possibility.
Unfortunately, the reality is that we know very little about this emerging field of genetics, and it is likely going to take a lot of time and effort before we even begin to scratch the surface of what epigenetics can teach us.
If it is indeed possible that lifestyle habits of a person leave epigenetic changes that can be passed down to future generations, then this is going to mean that all of us have to be more responsible about the way we lead our life for our children’s sake. What if by smoking you introduce epigenetic changes that will make your offspring more likely to smoke? Or more likely to develop lung cancer? While it may seem farfetched, scientists have already determined that exposing laboratory mice to a stressful environment can cause them to have offspring that are more prone to suffering from anxiety. While this is only one experiment, it has shown that the potential for epigenetic changes being passed on to future generations is possible.
The very idea that smoking a cigarette or eating a lot of junk food could affect not only you, but generations of your descendants is a very sobering thought. While exposing yourself to an increased cancer risk by smoking is reckless in its own right, the possibility that this choice could have an effect on your children should be enough to get you to reexamine your choices.
Until more is learned about how epigentics works, and what the potential for epigenetic changes being passed along to future generations is, it’s probably a good idea to make better choices in regards to your health. If you aren’t willing to live a healthier lifestyle for your own benefit, then perhaps you will be willing to do it to make sure that your children and your grandchildren won’t have to pay for your mistakes.