Scientific American Magazine October 2010 has an article titled “Revolution Postponed”. It discusses the Human Genome Project and the fact that it has failed to produce the medical miracles that scientists promised. It seems biology is far more complex than simple DNA and genes. The rabbit hole may be very deep and have many yet untold mysteries in store for us. Only about 2% of our genes code for a protein that does something in our bodies. The other 98% was long thought to be dead genes that did nothing. Now it may turn out that this dead area affects other genes in unknown ways. Epigenetics may be far more complex than originally thought. An environmental effect may have many epigenetic reactions that turn ON/OFF many genes. The mixture of these genes bein ON/OFF may cause problems like cancer.

In this article it mentions that they have tracked more than 100 biochemical, physiological and behavioral traits that are affected by epigenetic changes and has seen some of these changes passed down through 4 generations. It turns out we do pass along acquired traits through our epigenetics.

In computer terms, we not only pass on the hardware (DNA) to our children but the learned software as well. Tracking these changes is going to be a huge job. It will take generations and we may find out, like in the Genome Project, that life is far more complex than we ever thought. Epigenetics are changeable by changing the environment that originally set the epigenetic trait (food, thinking and physical environment). Although this may be very hard for some people the real message here is we can do it!

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