Binge Drinking May Be More Epigenetically Harmful To Women

October 1, 2019 Andrea P

One of the great pastimes of the human species is getting together to have a couple of beers after work, going out for cocktails on the weekend, or ending your evening with a nightcap before bed. Alcohol is a part of many cultural norms, and is fine in moderation, but could promote health problems down the line if consumed in excess too often, or too early. American adults of both sexes are no strangers to binge drinking; one out of [more…]

Assisted Reproduction May Lead to Epigenetic Changes for the Offspring

September 24, 2019 Andrea P

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has helped millions of families give birth to babies furthering their own genetic lineage, using methods that range from in vitro fertilization through the cryopreservation of gametes. Of course, given the opportunity for errors and the manmade nature of this process, safety is one concern—and yet, as scientist Boris Novakovic notes, “Previous studies have found some epigenetic changes in embryos grown in labs. However, no study has looked for these changes in the same individuals at [more…]

Aspirin May Epigenetically Help Prevent Breast Cancer in Some, Enable it in Others

September 17, 2019 Andrea P

Widely lauded for its anti-inflammatory effects, aspirin is often resorted to in regular doses for disease prevention. For example, previous research studies have supported the idea that women who regularly take aspirin and then are diagnosed with breast cancer may live longer, which has perpetuated this as a medical recommendation. However, the latest study out of the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health shed light on a subgroup of breast cancer patients for whom regular use [more…]

Epigenetic Changes May Pass Avoidance Behavior Down Multiple Generations

September 10, 2019 Andrea P

Science classes teach that an individual’s traits are mainly encoded in their genetic sequence—or DNA—which then gets transcribed into RNA that subsequently gets translated into the proteins that carry out cellular functions. But while this is generally true for the majority of traits, it does not account for how all characteristics are passed down across generations. It turns out, epigenetics may play a large role in how traits are inherited. Researchers at Princeton’s Department of Molecular Biology and the Lewis-Sigler [more…]

The Epigenetics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

August 27, 2019 Laurel Fish

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) comprises of a range of neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by social/communication deficits as well as repetitive/restrictive interests or behaviours. Currently, the exact causes of ASD symptomology is far from being understood. This is, in part, due to the complex and multifactorial nature of the disorder. Despite such complexities significant progress to understanding the disorder has been made over the past few decades. Currently, it is speculated that a combination of genetic susceptibility (such as possessing rare or [more…]

Nervous System’s Glial Cells May Epigenetically Respond to Stress

August 20, 2019 Andrea P

According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, three out of every four Americans reports experiencing a symptom of stress in the past thirty days. We are constantly faced with all kinds of stressors—personal, financial, career, news, and so on—with increasing frequency particularly as the role of mobile communications continues to grow in daily prevalence. A scientific understanding of how this is detrimental in the long run has been growing, with studies revealing that exposure to stressors ranging from violence [more…]

Epigenetic Imbalance Could Lead To Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia

August 13, 2019 Tim Barry

The importance of mental health is a prominent and ongoing issue in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 American adults experiences a mental illness in a given year, which can make living a healthy lifestyle challenging.  Some mental illnesses are due to problems with brain chemistry and are not well understood, therefore are severely under-treated. Dopamine—one of our brain’s “feel good” chemicals— is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for transporting information [more…]

Cancer Genes May Have Been Epigenetically Silenced Over Time

August 6, 2019 Andrea P

The factors contributing to the development of cancer in an individual are often complex and varied. Sometimes they are more straightforward, like when someone carries a specific gene known to indicate cancer risk; for example, specific mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 are linked to breast cancer. But usually, these risk factors are not so directly observable, making cancer risk detection—and possibly even cancer prevention—difficult. Any insights into what leads into the development of cancer are therefore critical. It’s not just [more…]

How Shutting Down DNA Methylation Affects the “Dark Matter” in Our Genome

July 30, 2019 Natalie Crowley

Along the vast stretches of molecules that make up our DNA, only a small portion (about 3%) consists of genes, the essential building blocks or our bodies. The rest has been considered dark matter, as it appears to serve little to no biological purpose. Out of this area, the most substantial bulk is comprised of mobile genetic elements that scientists call transposons or transposable elements (TEs). Throughout evolution, these TEs have colonized our genome by basically copying and pasting themselves [more…]

Daytime Sleepiness May Be Result of Epigenetic Change

July 23, 2019 Andrea P

Sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For most of us, it’s our favorite activity, yet we somehow never get enough of it. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, memory problems, and increased fatigue throughout the day. It turns out that feeling sleepy during the day may be a separate issue, and could be attributed to a change in a person’s epigenetics. Daytime fatigue creeping up so persistently that people can’t stay awake [more…]

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