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What Is Epigenetics?

Genetics testing has become more well known and curious people everywhere are getting tested in order to find out whether or not they have a higher chance of developing disease. There is a lot of information out there regarding genetics and all of the medical jargon can be really confusing. Here is a brief description of epigenetics and genes that are linked to diseases. If you’re curious about genetic testing, contact KlothoGenics today.

Understanding Epigenetics

This is the study of heritable changes in gene expression, that does not deal with changes to the underlying DNA sequence. Basically, it’s how cells read the genes and how they produce proteins. Circumstances in life can cause genes to be turned off or on. Illnesses, cancers, cognitive dysfunction, reproductive, neurobehavioral illnesses can all be linked at some level to epigenetics. So what you eat, where you live and even exercise can cause chemical modifications of the genes and can turn them on or off. As with cancer or Alzheimer’s, genes can be switched from a healthy state to an unhealthy state. Within epigenetics, methylation is the addition of a single carbon and three hydrogen atoms (called a methyl group) to another molecule. Demethylation is the removal of a methyl group. They are on and off switches in your body that control stress responses and how your body makes energy from food and brain chemistry.

With a genetic testing you will be able to see what your specific genetic make up is. The results from a genetic test can tell you if you have genes mutations, or SNPs (pronounced snip), Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. Here are just a handful in an ocean of genes that have mutations and are linked to certain diseases.

  • BRCA1 or BRCA2: Having a SNP in the genes can mean you have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. These genes regulate cell division and growth, and also can cause ovarian and and pancreatic cancer.
  • PON1: If you are positive for this gene, it can mean that poisons in your body build up in your cells and blood stream. This can make you more susceptible to illnesses and pain, including migraines.
  • COMT: There could even be SNPs that cause panic attacks. This gene is related to your brain chemistry and can cause the slowing of the breakdown of the hormone dopamine. With increases levels of dopamine will lead to an increased risk of anxiety and panic attacks.
  • MTHFD1L: This gene has been connected with Alzheimer’s disease. It is responsible for active folate in the mitochondria, which produces energy. In this case, mitochondria are dying and is related to cognitive disorders.

People do not usually get a disease from one SNP in a gene, usually it is a combination of various SNPs that will cause a problem. And just because you have a genetic mutation doesn’t mean that you will develop the disease related to that gene. At KlothoGenics, we develop a program designed specifically for you, based on your genetic testing results. We can help with an exercise routine and diet that will be formulated to help prevent diseases that are caused by mutations in genes. Contact us today to learn more.