Jun 24, 2019 | Updated: 11:41 AM EDT

Study Shows Poverty May Leave a Mark On Our Genes

Apr 13, 2019 07:54 AM EDT

Poverty in Slums
(Photo : Pixabay)

A person born into poverty has the possibility to overcome his economic disability. He can be poor and then be well-off after working hard.

However, a study conducted by US and Canada researchers revealed that poverty affects eight percent of the human's genome. They obtained this statistic through "a genome-wide analysis on just under 500 participants in the Philippine-based Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey," according to Science Alert.

The researchers were able to correlate the relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and the possibility for genes to be modified through epigenetics. 

"First, we have known for a long time that SES is a powerful determinant of health, but the underlying mechanisms through which our bodies 'remember' the experiences of poverty are not known," says Northwestern University biological anthropologist Thomas McDade.

"There is no nature vs. nurture," he adds. "This pattern highlights a potential mechanism through which poverty can have a lasting impact on a wide range of physiological systems and processes," 

The gene's actual coding is not affected by epigenetics. However, epigenetics prevents the reading of a sequence because of the DNA's chemical changes. A scenario involves methylation where transcription is modified because of the addition of a methyl group. 

Early life experiences affect how the body works at the most basic level. Changes in epigenetics have the possibility of being inherited through the generations. 

The researchers were able to identify an estimated 2,500 methylation sites that affected 1,537 genes of children who were raised poor. This was done by conduction specific genetic probes to blood samples obtained from the children whose parents answered the survey during their 21st birthday. 

Children who were born into better SES conditions who later became poor did not demonstrate significant differences.

Children who grew up had poor health conditions because of variations in access to education, diet, medical availability. 

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