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What are epigenetics? Most people don't even know that they should be asking this question. So why should you care? An article published in 2008 reported that only about 5-10% of cancer cases were due to genetic defects and the rest were preventable. What?! The CDC even lists cancer as a preventable disease. And the reason is this thing called epigenetics.

Most people are not doomed to a specific fate because of our genes. But lets be honest, we often blame our genes for our health issues. Genes are kind of like a light switch. If the switch gets flipped, the light turns on, or off for that matter. For example a gene that has the potential to cause breast cancer must be switched on to actually cause cells to mutate into cancer. A mother could pass this gene onto their daughter and one of them could develop cancer while the other doesn't because the switch wasn't turned on in one of the cases.

What turns those genes on or off? Lifestyle is a big one. Of course, that isn't what people want to hear, because that means health is kind of our responsibility. We can't just write off our fate as out of our control. But for those willing to work a little, this is great news. In some cases the lifestyle modifications may be simple, or maybe you are already doing them and don't realize it.

Finding out which modifications to make are crucial. For many people it is a food sensitivity, for others it may be finding the correct level of physical activity. Your body will try to tell you what needs to be changed. The hard part is listening. Symptoms are the manifestations of our body's weaknesses being challenged. By improving upon our bodies weaknesses we can reduce disease and the symptoms that come with.

When symptoms become severe enough a doctor may order lab work to learn more about your condition. Ideally we do not let this get severe enough to need vials of blood to be collected. If you feel “not well” after eating a certain food or drinking a certain drink, your body may be trying to tell you that this is not good. Maybe if we start taking this feedback into account, we could halt a disease before it tries to evolve. This is an argument for improving your health awareness level.

Start simple. The CDC recommends reducing alcohol intake, eliminating tobacco use and keeping your BMI below 25.


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