Why Is Epigenetics Important?

by Scott Morrice on 03/26/2012

In my What Is Epigenetics? post I “introduced” the story of epigenetics. And basically that story is the process by which the environment affects gene activity. In this post I want to examine why is epigenetics important to us.

For me, the most important step in grasping the significance of epigenetics was understanding, as Bruce Lipton points out in his book, The Biology of Belief, that genes can not turn themselves on or off. This has to be done by something other than the gene itself. That trigger, or switch, has to come from a signal generated by the gene’s environment. So, no matter what characteristic that gene is responsible for in our bodies, if that gene isn’t turned on by a signal generated by the gene’s environment, that gene isn’t going to “express” itself—ever.

Epigenetics is important to us in the first instance simply because we now know that we are not held hostage to our DNA. The genetic material that we inherited, and which has so often been blamed for many, maybe even most, of our more serious illnesses and defects, no longer has to be viewed as having the power over our fate that we once assumed it did. In fact, as I pointed in out in my What Is Epigenetics? post, apparently only about 5% of those patients with cancer or cardiovascular disease can actually attribute their disease to heredity.

It is important to us in the second instance because if those diseases weren’t primarily attributable to genetics, then they have to be primarily attributable to something (signals or stimuli) originating outside of our genes, and this points to the idea that we probably then have some say over whether we actually get those diseases or not. If we weren’t “born” with the problem, then we should be able to manipulate, or avoid, the signal that the disease would otherwise be attributed to.

And it is important to us in the third instance because, for the same reasons that we have some say over whether we get those diseases or not, we now understand that we have other, very powerful options available to us in respect of responding to those diseases. Those same epigenetic mechanisms that were responsible for the disease in the first place, can also be effectively used to fight the disease and promote healing.

And it is important to us in the fourth instance because now that we understand the epigenetic mechanism, we can use it in a very proactive way to actually enhance our lives. This is a very exciting topic all on its own, and I will come back to it in a later post.

For many of the reasons that I discuss above, epigenetics, as I mentioned in my What Is Epigenetics? post, is one of science’s most active areas of research. The implications of many of these findings cannot be overstated in my opinion.

For a very readable and excellent source of further information on this very relevant topic, I would be remiss if I did not also refer you to two recent posts on this same subject matter written by Dr. Lee Pulos: Epigenesis: The New Biology and Epigenesis: The New Biology Part II.

I’ll keep you posted.

Previous post:

Next post: