Epigenetic PBS Film Discussion

Nov 25, 2020 in Reaction Essay

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Epigenetics is the study of inheritable changes in living organisms, caused by chemical modifications in the genes. It explains why certain genes are dormant while others remain active in a given environment. It is a regular and natural process that occurs in the bodies of all living things. Several factors trigger Epigenetics, and they include age, diseases, environment, and ones lifestyle. Epigenetic modifications alter the way, in which cells interact inside the body, causing inheritable diseases and human disorders.

The PBS film addresses the issue of Epigenetics in identical twins. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the host of Nova, explains why identical twins are alike in appearance but tend to be different as they become older. This 13-minute long film gives a brief explanation of Epigenetic tags and principles of their work in twins. The speaker uses Randy Jirtles research and describes the effects of methylation in the coat color of Agouti mice to explain the differences in identical twins (PBS, 2014). This film is important because it supports the idea that Epigenetics is everywhere, it makes us unique, and it is reversible. The film and its transcript are easy to obtain through the Internet. Additionally, the speaker uses different examples and scenarios in his lecture to ensure easy understanding.

This documentary supports the findings of Dempster et al. (2011), according to which identical twins come from the same egg; however, differences between them appear in their later years. They both agree that no two individuals are the same. Furthermore, both the film and the article conclude that the environment, in which people live, has a potential to trigger and alter their genes. The insight that we get from this lecture helps us to understand how nature and nurture work. For many years, scientists have been conducting researches to compare character traits of identical twins and determine the degree to which certain habits are inherited. The film, therefore, effortlessly succeeds in explaining the study of Epigenetics in terms of character traits of identical twins.

Article: Disease- Associated Epigenetic changes in monozygotic twins discordant for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (Dempster et al, 2011).

This article uses monozygotic twins in its study to investigate the contribution of Epigenetics to disease etiology. The research group conducted a genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation on peripheral blood DNA samples from 22 pair monozygotic twins suffering from Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorders (Dempster et al, 2011). The findings of this work agree with Castillo-Fernandez et al, (2014) research results regarding Epigenetic changes in identical twins. They both claim that the methylation profiles of twins are similar at birth, but with time they change due to the surrounding environment. Both articles also agree with the genome-wide results, according to which differently methylated regions exist between members and represent discordant monozygotic twins. The results also showed that DNA methylation contributes to the discordance of monozygotic twins for both schizophrenia and bipolar conditions.

Dempster et al. (2011) suggested controlling Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorders in populations through the study of genetic backgrounds, environmental exposure, demographic factors, and other cohort effects. The results of the article can be applied in management and control of these mental disorders. Additionally, the findings will provide new opportunities for diagnosis and treatment of both schizophrenia and bipolar conditions. Furthermore, the results add to the base of knowledge in the field of science and medicine that deals with both disorders. The findings also help scientists to identify Epigenetic markers that can cause or trigger these mental conditions in the environment.

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My Family History -Dr. Oz report

During the process, I have discovered that my family has a history of such diseases as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. It is important for an individual to know his or her medical history, because medical complications can arise at any time. Additionally, knowing ones medical history through conducting a medical research can help an individual to take precautionary measure before the disease occurs.

The report informs me of my high risk of acquiring diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. However, I can prevent these diseases by having a balanced diet, doing regular exercises, and going for medical investigations regularly. It is important to note that Epigenetics influence hereditary diseases. For example, in my case, the surrounding environment can trigger my genes to cause obesity, high blood pressure, or even diabetes. Moreover, research has shown that Epigenetics demonstrate other factors besides mutations that can alter the genes of an individual and, therefore, increase the likelihood of developing these diseases. These factors can be added with time and hence passed from one generation to another.

BlueZones.com Vitality Compass Life Expectancy test discussion

Life expectancy refers to the number of years an average person is expected to live (Riegelman, 2010). People in more developed countries live longer, comparing to those, who live in developing countries. Various factors have led to this conclusion, including technological advancement and changes in vaccination of various diseases. Beyond this, these countries have succeeded in creating awareness among citizens about the importance of healthy diets. Following the above discussion, I undertook the BlueZones.com vitality assessment in order to determine my life expectancy. From the results, I learned that my life expectancy is 78.1 years and my healthy life expectancy (that is the years free from diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity) is 65.5 %. I also found that I am in a position to add approximately 18.5 healthy years to my life by optimizing my lifestyle and environment.

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How to improve my health and longevity from the study of Epigenetics and family history

The life expectancy of a person is determined by his/her genetics and environment. However, I can increase my chances to live longer by adopting a healthy lifestyle that will include eating nutritious foods, having adequate sleep, and drinking clean water. It is also crucial for me to see my health care provider from time to time and to take preventive health measures. Additionally, in order to improve my health and longevity, I have to develop ways of managing my stress levels and regulating my emotional wellbeing. I also plan to take advantage of free medical programs, offered by the government and other non-profit organization, such as screenings and preventive tests, in order to promote my physical health. I have discovered that being physically fit and active is equally important for promoting longevity. People, who are less active, are found to live a shorter life, as compared to those, who exercise. Studies show that doing sport slows down the aging process, because it declines mitochondrial biogenesis in our bodies (Riegelman, 2010). Furthermore, I have decided to engage in regular health activities such as getting vaccination and booster shots as often as required for my wellbeing.

In conclusion, the secret of a healthier and longer life is simple, as it lies in eating healthy food, exercising regularly, doing frequent medical screenings, and managing stress. The study of Epigenetics assists in understanding that no two individuals are the same even if they are twins. It explains why diseases such as cancer affect one twin, while the other remains unaffected. Persons traits of character or habits are determined by the environment, in which they live. From the above experience, I have learned that any stimulus outside our bodies can result in Epigenetic modifications. Additionally, now I know that such diseases as cancer are passed from one generation to another through the Inheritance of Epigenetic marks. However, Epigenetics is reversible, because what we do, eat, where we live, and how we interact with others affect the way, in which our genes interact. Therefore, it is important for individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to promote their longevity.

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