Thought when I retired I’d take a genetics course, learn all about it. Hasn’t happened. Retirement is more time consuming than I ever imagined, and the change in scheduling has still got me thrown off.
But I have read a little bit of interesting stuff on epigenetics. This is a new exciting topic, moving beyond current genetics knowledge.
This refers to things that increase or decrease gene functioning. They do not affect the genes themselves, don’t change the DNA sequencing.
This change in functioning can be related to environmental factors and experiences, and can be inherited. In this way, for example, an experience of the grandfather may have a significant effect on the grandchildren, even though it did not change his DNA. For example, if grandfather went through a famine, the grandchildren may be less likely to develop diabetes.
There’s a tendency to inheritance in ADD ADHD, with the classical story of the parents who bring their son in to be diagnosed and find that the father has it also.
But perhaps epigenetics bears on some of the controversies and prescriptions regarding ADD ADHD. Epigenetic changes might be caused by stress, exercise, meditation, diet, sleep patterns, etc.
The model for many medical conditions is that the person’s genes may give them an increased tendency to the condition, but whether they get it or not depends on what happens to them in their environment.
The good news
We don’t get to choose our genes, but we can affect how they affect us.
Tips about genes: