Monday, November 10, 2008

Lack of money can alter genes

I know that the above title is hard to believe, but it is what a group of medical researchers are saying. A group of Canadian researchers just completed a study on cells and genes related to asthma. One of the conclusions they made, is that negative perceptions about ones life can effect one biologically.

A story in the US News and World Report mentions some of their findings.

The researchers studied immune system cells called T-lymphocytes in 31 children, aged 9-18, with asthma. T-cells play a role in the airway inflammation that occurs in an asthma attack.

Half the children in the study were from disadvantaged families and half from privileged families. The researchers found that genes regulating inflammatory response were more active in poorer children than in those who were from richer families. Genes with increased activity included those involved in producing inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which induce stress response and wound healing. The poorer children also had more severe asthma.

The University of British Columbia researchers also identified differences in signaling related to pathways that control immune cell activity and which are targeted by asthma drugs. The children from richer families had an excess of genes that help control inflammatory responses.

While the design of the study precluded definitive conclusions about cause and effect between socioeconomic status and gene/asthma activity, "...the findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the larger social environment can get 'under the skin' at the [genomic level]," the researchers said.

1 comment:

Global Patriot said...

It would make sense that social and environmental issues would affect how the body operates, and those at lower income, who eat less nutritious food, get less exercise and have less to be happy about would suffer biologically.