doctor studying epigenetics

Body Keeps the Score -- Say What?

September 30, 2022

Have you heard of epigenetics?

For years science believed tha a particular gene produces a particular result.  Surprise!  Research is now indicating that genes are not fixed, they operate with other bio chemical messages, they can be turned on and off or left with “markers” that affect how they operate, and thus the health of people (or mice in laboratories, etc.)  A trigger for these on/off or markers on genes and the bio chemistry can be life events (trauma), or an event that triggers the right amount of chemicals such as a famine or hurricane.  The chemicals leave a mark on a person’s genes, which is then passed down to subsequent generations.  This is called epigenetic’s.  The gene is not directly damaged, instead it is altered on how it expresses.

The science on epigenetic’s is still young.  The first research involved children of holocaust survivors, documenting historical events and medical information.  The science noted that this group’s offspring had higher cortisol levels even though they had not themselves experienced the holocaust.  There has been research on children of POW survivors (sons have 11% higher mortality rate than non POW; daughters were not affected).  Indigenous communities and survivors of the residential schools have been reviewed with interesting findings.  Trauma is not just an event that affects the recipient but effects are felt in the generations to come.  Research has attempted to fill out the picture on why diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune seem to have a genetic link.

Want to learn more on this topic:  www.bbc.com – Can the Legacy of Trauma be Passed Down Generations.  Wikipedia, McGill research review; New York Times, Can We Really Inherit Trauma? Or read Mark Wolynn –  It Didn’t Start with You.  The body Keeps the Score; Bessel Van Der Kolk MD, Gabor Mate’s new book, The Myth of Normal, are all excellent reads.

Scroll to Top