Health and Wealth

What’s more significant – your zip code or your GENE codes?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Our genetic material is inherited from our parents. Their D-N-A influences everything we are, from our personalities to our looks. But can our environment ALTER this biological instruction book?

Thomas McDade from Northwestern wondered. He and his team surveyed nearly five hundred young adults. The subjects reported on their socioeconomic statuses during childhood and current adulthood.

Think: income, assets, and education level. The researchers then measured the subjects’ level of D-N-A methylation. This is the main marker that defines HOW your genes are expressed. For example, high D-N-A methylation levels may increase your risk for heart disease or depression.

Results? The lower income subjects they surveyed had DOUBLE methylation in comparison to those with higher incomes. This affected almost TEN percent of gene expression in their genome, leaving lasting impacts on the body!

This suggests that your genes REMEMBER the experiences of poverty. Researchers believe poverty can predict health factors, such as immune function and bone development.

Talk about rags to riches, D-N-A style?