I inherited my mother’s reddish/brown hair. I inherited her nose and her mouth. I like to think I inherited her determination and her unwavering kindness.
But I also inherited her tendency to worry incessantly and to dwell on past mistakes. (Now you know why publishing KINGSLEY took so long!)
Most of what I inherited from my mother came from her DNA, that is, from her genome. But there’s one thing I had that she never had – Cancer. Who did I inherit my vulnerability to cancer from if not my mother? My father? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was part of the hidden inheritance found in my parents’ epigenome and passed onto me.
What is the Epigenome and what is epigenetics?
Inheritance is complicated. The Human Genome Project identified and mapped about 90% of the chemical base pairs that make up human DNA. But scientists are now learning that the substances surrounding our DNA also can influence our inheritance.
Epi is Latin for On or Around and Epigenetics refers to the chemicals that surround DNA.
A passage from KINGSLEY gets right to the heart of the matter:
“Scientists used to believe the substances surrounding DNA molecules were inconsequential,” the reporter said. “They were wrong.”