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Your DNA is Not Your Destiny: Behavioral Epigenetics and the Role of Emotions in Health

Citation: Church, D. (2010). Your DNA is Not Your Destiny: Behavioral Epigenetics and the Role of Emotions in Health. Anti-Aging Medical Therapeutics, 13. Click here to download Abstract and Full Paper http://goo.gl/kjKjvo

Abstract

In a series of studies published in 2000 and later, researchers began to demonstrate the importance of epigenetic influences on gene expression. Genes might be silenced through methylation, or their expression facilitated by acetylization. A further step occurred when behaviors and psychological states were noted to regulate the activity of genes. A body of evidence has now been accumulated that assesses the specific genes affected by behavioral influences such as nurturing, by lifestyle interventions such as meditation, by emotions, and by alleviating psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Comparisons of the relative lengths of telomeres in identical twins, who start life with identical genes, show that emotional stress can result in one twin having a cellular age that is as much as 10 years older by age 40. New studies in the field of energy psychology also indicate that these psychological and emotional stressors may be remediated much more rapidly than previously believed possible, and that behavioral and psychological influences regulate the genes responsible for inflammation, immune function, and cellular regeneration, among others. These advances provide fruitful new avenues for research into the epigenetic properties of simple behavioral and emotional skills such as meditation, the Relaxation Response, and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and point to the potential of these methods as potent anti-aging and medical interventions.

Craig’s Comments

In 2010 Dawson Church wrote a paper that reviewed a series of studies beginning in the year 2000. He cited that gene expression (including aging and overall health) was affected by the environment as opposed by being relegated to  a strict DNA blueprint. The influencing of gene expression, (click here for a more detailed explanation) Studies continue to show that genes are influenced by not only chemical changes, but also behavioral influences, including meditation, nurturing and alleviating psychological conditions such as depression with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Such epigenetic changes help also to explain how negative emotional experiences and their resultant beliefs can be “passed down” from one generation to another.

He discusses one specific study used identical twins who had differing life experiences and stresses and that by the age of 40, by measureing the telomere tips of the chromosomes, one of the twins was 10 years older on a cellular level. This paper explores how EFT and other behavioral change techniques can have an increasingly therapeutic affect on what was previously thought as an immutable and automatic passing down of characteristics from ones parents.