Philosophy is the study of problems and questions that arise in connection with knowledge, reason, mind, language, reality, and existence. Epigenetics is the study of inheritable changes of genes of an organism/ individual, which are not encoded or caused by change in the DNA sequence.
From PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), I watched a video by Nova Science titled Our lifestyles and environment can change the way our genes are expressed. It was about two identical twins discussing how epigenetics occurs. Identical twins have the same DNA and the same genes. They have many things in common and even react in the same way to similar circumstances. One twin is diagnosed with cancer yet the other one is not. The big question is why two people who are very identical, in terms of genes and DNA, are so different in terms of health and proneness to different situations. It was identified that the epigenome is what makes the identical twins different. Scientists have been seeking to alter the epigenome so that they can differentiate two identical twins and also alter how cells in different people react.
It was also identified that the environment a person lives in usually affects the way a person develops. Lifestyle also affects how we all react to different situations. The study suggested that as twins’ age, their epigenetic differences accumulate, especially if their lifestyles differ. The study findings are very real. In life it has been observed that as identical twins age, they realize that they have different needs and ways they want to live their lives. On the contrary, during the young age, they want to follow each other everywhere and be together in all activities they do. They also do many things in a similar way and react similarly to similar situations when young.
The findings of the video intrigued me and thus I opted to find out more about epigenetics of identical twins. I, therefore, found an article on epigenetics discussing the Insights from identical twins. The study was carried out to compare characteristics in identical twins aiming to identify the extent to which inheritance of certain traits occurs and the traits learned or those that occur as a result of difference in lifestyles and environment. The researchers wanted to study to what extent nature and environment influence personal traits of two people with similar genes.
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The researchers collected data from different pairs of identical twins for analysis. They found out that some of the traits have strong genetic components, while others do not. Those that were genes-related included: disabilities, for example, dyslexia, eye colour, the manner, in which people laugh, body language, facial expression, dressing code. Those that are mainly influenced by the environment and lifestyle included: diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, excess weight. Despite the fact that twins have the same genes, their environment changes as they age. The study suggested that this difference in environment and environment itself brings about the differences in twins. It is what makes twins the best model to help people understand the impact of lifestyle and environment on certain traits.
When one of the twins gets diagnosed with a disease, such as cancer, the other twin tends to think and believe that they two get the disease. The research proved this myth wrong. Some diseases are heritable, while others are not. The researchers look for genetical differences in twins, who have similar diseases and environmental difference from the twins not affected by similar diseases. Researchers identified that the differences are brought about by differences in the epigenome. The epigenome tells the cells how to react taking into account different conditions and also what types of cells they should be. It explains how twins can be so identical yet different. The epigenome can be altered to work differently depending on the lifestyle lived and environment.
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Upon filling in the family history questionnaire, I discovered that epigenetics has taken root in our own family. There are certain traits that are very similar to every generation in the family, while others are so diverse. To start with it is the ability to deliver twins. I found out that as every generation arises, identical twins are born at least in one household. It can be related to the genes possessed by family members. I also discovered that there is no history of cancer for old generations but in young generations, there is occurrence at least twice. The occurrence could be attributed to the changes in lifestyle of younger generations.
Something particularly caught my eye: the occurrence of the diabetic disease down the family tree. So many people in the family have diabetes, which I believe could be hereditary year after year. The current generation has, however, shown significant changes as none of them have the disease. Twins in the family have many similarities though different in terms of susceptibility to diseases. It simply explains how epigenetics works. Twins have similar genes yet have differences attributed to the different lifestyles they engage in.
The life expectancy questionnaire from Blue Zones website entailed all kinds of questions. The idea behind it was the understanding of my lifestyle thus explaining the life expectancy age, the healthy life I can lead and also gave an estimate of the years my body is with regard to my life habits. The report showed that I was four and a half years younger, according to my life habits, which means that so far I practice healthy living. It also states that I have a healthy life expectancy of seventy five years. My life expectancy was ninety years and my life has accrued thirteen years due to my life habits.