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:
My daughter-in-law was recently diagnosed with MS. In reading about it, we learned the same thing you mentioned: “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.”
I’m not a scientist but it seems like with ADD/ADHD you either have it or you don’t. Certainly environmental factors make a difference in how it manifests itself. Before I had kids, I didn’t even know I had ADD/ADHD. After I had kids was when it became really obvious. I read in one of my books that that was common for women. When they were managing just their own life, they could control it, but when you threw kids in the mix, they struggled. That was my case. I had ADHD before I had kids but the environment was manageable. As my life has gotten more complicated and fast paced, my ADHD has gotten worse and worse. I think it’s the worst now than it’s ever been and it’s because my life has gotten so complicated. The environmental factors are definitely playing a role. But they didn’t “wake it up” – it was always there.
My daughter-in-law didn’t have MS before but something caused it to develop. Perhaps an environmental factor.
Just my two cents.
scott- yes, add adhd, so many fascinating things out there, unfortunately mostly not the ones we need to be dealing with!
as always, thank you for commenting
Epigenetics, that is way too fascinating! I had never heard that word until your post, but just looked it up. There aren’t enough lives for all of the interesting things in this one!
O.K. now I’m going to try to leave that path alone and get back to focusing on getting off the computer and getting ready for bed.
Thank you Doug for your posts.
All the best,