12 Jan 2023


Epigenetics: The Science of How Your Environment Can Affect Your Genes

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

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The term lost in translation has come to common use in contemporary language to denote inter alia the capacity by two individuals to get two different meanings from the same conversation. A common scenario is when two sets of identical instructions are given to two different individuals but either in different places or times; ordinarily, the two individuals will either do the same thin in two different ways or even perform two very different activities depending on their level of understanding and/or circumstances (Hall & Hallgrímsson, 2011). Genetically speaking, when genetic information either gets lost or misconstrued during transition, the resultant change as well as the study or such occurrences is referred to as epigenetics (Mészáros & Pintér, 2010) (Carey, 2012). Epigenetics can therefore be defined as the inheritable genetic changes that result from changes in the way genetic information from DNA is translated mostly during cell replication emanating from internal or external environmental factors. 

This concept is so well outlined in the a the epigenetics video from PBS that comically looks into the changes in a set of identical twins who albeit begin from near absolute congruence, keep on changing as they grow up and older despite the fact that they share genetic similarities having shared the same ovum at conception. The video further looks at laboratory investigations using mice that show that this seemingly acquired genetic characteristics, in this case obesity can actually be transferred to an organism’s offspring. Whereas the science in this video is outlined in extremely elementary parlance, the concept of epigenetics and its inheritable characteristics are accurately outlined (Carey, 2012). 

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It is also worthy of notice that this video has managed to outline one of the more complicated concepts in genetics in a manner that a layman can comprehend it which is not a mean achievement. Finally and perhaps most importantly is the portrayal of a revolutionary treatment for cancer, that is referred to as ‘diplomatic treatment’ that is based on the understanding that cancer can be caused by epigenetics and not change in the DNA structure itself thus both making treatment easy and also reducing the propensity for side effects which in contemporary cancer treatment create extremely adverse effects, in some instances more fatal than the cancer itself (Carey, 2012). 

Scholarly Article: 

In his 2006 article Epigenetics: The science of change Bob Weinhold outlines the results of a careful perusal of the results epigenetically research while giving a critical analysis thereof, the challenges facing said research and the beneficial outcomes so far realized from the said research programs. Among the two human research points focused on in this article are those at the University of Southern California’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Carcinogenesis Division of Japan’s National Cancer Center Research Institute, a fact that enables the article to contain diversity on both established facts and research itself (Weinhold, 2006). 

Multiple definition of epigenetics: 

The article gives several definition of epigenetics both from a literal and operational perspective. In literal parlance, it defines epigenetics as additional changes to the genetic sequence: from a genetic perspectives, organisms and in this case humans are different due to the genetic format as incorporated in the individuals DNA sequence; epigenetics therefore refers to the modification that occurs over and above that guaranteed by the DNA sequence itself. In operational usage however, the interpretation of epigenetics has been reduced to the particular modification that happens when a parent cell is replicating into daughter cells (Weinhold, 2006). 

Whereas this does not generally denote errors, it denotes some elements of the genetic information as contained in the DNA being augmented while others are diminished during translation so that the daughter cells are exponentially different. This difference can be normal and indeed essential to humans, like in the formation of the different forms of cells from the same stem cell or abnormal and sometimes catastrophic like the formation of a cancer cell. Finally, the reversibility of epigenetic change is still a matter of controversial contemporary scientific debate. The article then proceeds to list epigenetic processes as including methylation, acetylation, phosphorylation, ubiquitylation, and sumolyation (Weinhold, 2006). 

Challenges and Uses: 

One of the medical enigmas of our times is cancer: whereas scientifically research has advanced to the point of eliminating and/or quarantining most of the ailments and sicknesses that had potential world ending ramifications including anthrax, plague and the small pox, cancer has remained a major mystery coupled with the fact that many of the treatment regimens developed over time including chemotherapy and radiotherapy have been found to be as dangerous as the condition itself. This article outlines epigenetics as a possible way to better understand cancer and also come up with safe and friendly treatment regimens thereof. Unfortunately, despite the fact that both governments and private organizations have over the years committed billions of US dollars for cancer research, very little of this monies has gone towards the revolutionary epigenetics research thus limiting and stunting it and delaying its probable benefits (Weinhold, 2006). 

Family History: 

As earlier indicated, epigenetic changes can be inherited and it is possible to tell the traits that have been epigenetically inherited by looking back and around at ones close relations with the Family History-Dr. Oz being among the best available tools for the assessment of this family related factors. From the results emanating from the filling of the aforesaid family history questionnaire, it was clear that my family does not have a high propensity for biological disorders such as cancer, arthritis, epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease (Hall & Hallgrímsson, 2011). 

However, the psychologically related complications such as depression were a common phenomenon even among family members who happened to live in near extremities of the social ladder. This can only mean that the epigenetic modification that took place in my family tree regards reaction to stressful situation in a manner that results in depression or depression related complications (Hall & Hallgrímsson, 2011). 

Life Expectancy: 

Whereas the general life expectancy of a population can be arrived at by looking at many general factors regarding the environment that the generation lives in, the life expectancy of an individual has a lot to do with the individual’s health and propensity for unhealable conditions and diseases such as cancer (Hall & Hallgrímsson, 2011). Formulas have also been developed to check and assess the life expectancy of an individual though collection of specific data and also advice the individuals on states to take and things to avoid in order to increase that life expectancy: among this formulas is the BlueZones.com Vitality Compass which is successfully filled and analyzed the results thereof. 

According to the results I obtained from this site, I am set to live to a ripe old age with an extremely low propensity for terminal diseases which surprisingly fits well with my analysis from my family tree. However, from the Live Longer interphase, it was clear that unless I am careful regarding emotional factors, anxiety and attitude, I am susceptible to stress and stress related issues such as depression. The Vitality Compass follows suit by giving advice on a positive attitude, avoiding anxiety, becoming increasingly religious and following the kind of a diet that inhibits high blood pressure such as increased intake of fruits and vegetables and a reduced intake of salt. This clearly show that I have epigenetically developed a susceptibility for emotionally and psychologically occasioned illnesses and a form of immunity for biological disorders (Mészáros & Pintér, 2010). 


The totality of the foregoing clearly shows that my epigenetic development has been quite favorable both to myself and my immediate descendants who can achieve longevity simply through dietary, lifestyle and attitude modification, something that can be achieved easily, cheaply and without a lot is exertion. A good point of comparison would be an individual whose family history and life expectancy data shows susceptibility to high cholesterol or common forms of cancer such as skin cancer; this individual will require careful physiological exertions that may affects daily life decision (Hall & Hallgrímsson, 2011). 

For better improvement of my life and longevity, I however need to watch out for any signs of depression and seek immediate medical attention upon any onset of the same. Watch my diet for anything that may increase probability of High Blood Pressure and adopt a lifestyle and attitude that takes one day at a time to avoid anxiety as well as seeking spiritual guidance and support regularly: in this way, I will have incorporated epigenetics in ensuring a long healthy life (Mészáros & Pintér, 2010). 


Carey, N. (2012). The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance. New York: Columbia University Press 

Hall, B. K., & Hallgrímsson, B. (2011). Epigenetics: Linking Genotype and Phenotype in Development and Evolution. Berkeley: University of California Press 

Mészáros, Z., & Pintér, B. (2010). Epigenetics: Mechanisms, Functions and Human Effects. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc 

Weinhold, B. (2006). Epigenetics: The science of change. , 114(3), Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1392256/ 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Epigenetics: The Science of How Your Environment Can Affect Your Genes .


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