The field of epigenetics has exploded in recent years, and for good reason. The more we understand about human behavior, trauma, and its transmission throughout future generations, the more epigenetic research shows that we’ve got work to do.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes epigenetics as the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. While we may have inherited certain DNA from our biological parents, the choices we make in our lives in response to these genetics can alter the way our body reads a DNA sequence. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence.

Michael Skinner.

In an article for Science Magazine, Andrew Curry chronicled stories of descendants of post-war veterans, Holocaust survivors, and children from Pakistani orphanages, alongside studies of noted biologist Michael Skinner at Washington State University. Curry stated that the hypothesis that an individual’s experience might alter the cells and behavior of their children and grandchildren has become widely accepted, and that in animals, exposure to stress, cold, or high-fat diets has been shown to trigger metabolic changes in later generations. Similarly, Skinner’s research suggests changes to the epigenome, a swirl of biological factors that affect how genes are expressed, can be passed down through multiple generations.

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