*Extra Credit Post* Epigenetics and the Embodiment of Race
I am not someone that easily understands science or wants anything to do with biology but I found this topic to be completely fascinating. Of course everyone knows that you are what you eat. What your mother ate and even what your grandmother ate contributes to your health because of the genes that you inherited from them. Their lifestyle choices affected their health but also will affect yours. This article begs the question about why it is that some races are more prone to certain diseases. For instance, it is widely publicized that African Americans suffer greatly from heart disease. Why is this? There are many social, economic, and contextual factors that come into play. Everyone is familiar with the nature vs nurture argument. Yes, you are born with certain genes that in some ways render you incapable from changing your genetic structure but that is not the only thing that affects your health. Your environment plays a huge role in your overall well-being. In the case of African Americans, their ancestors had “cultural and structural challenges which imposed barriers to a healthy lifestyle”. In the days when segregation was the norm, African Americans had limited access to quality medical care and were under constant strain and stress. Stress contributes greatly to many different health problems as it takes a significant toll on the body. As we learned from epigenetics, what affected your ancestors affects you. Therefore, because African Americans lacked proper health care and were put under constant strain decades ago, African Americans today are still suffering from their ancestors environmental factors. This explains the racial disparities in races.
Depression, which is similar to stress takes a toll on the body and takes away from a person’s health and well being. Depression affects the individual as well as those that surround the individual. And as we learned from epigenetics, if your ancestors suffered from depression, you are more likely to suffer from it too.