By Svetlana Kogan, M.D.
1990 was an exciting time to study biology at Cornell University. Our genetics professor had announced with great pride that humanity was embarking on an epic quest of identifying all of the existing human genes – Project Genome. For the next decade or so, 40-something thousand genes were identified and to everyone’s dismay humans turned out to be only 1% different from chimpanzees. Eventually however, in the first decade of the 21st century, geneticists realized that there is no point in focusing on all of the newly discovered genetic material – there was just too much spliced out as a waste during transcription of the DNA in living humans. Instead, it was decided to focus on the 23,000 genes that code for the proteins because those were the only ones that mattered for life.
At the time, it was believed that genes would determine your destiny. If you were born with a genetic predisposition to a certain disease – you were very unfortunate because it was just a matter of time before you would succumb to that particular illness. Subsequently, in medical schools around the globe, family history was considered of utmost importance because you had to watch out for your defective genes. This outlook on health has ruined many lives, because for millions of people this kind of self-fulfilling prophecy has plagued them with anxiety and waiting for a disaster to happen. Along the way, scientists were using observational experiments to see how genetic material would express itself in people.
One of the biggest breakthroughs occurred in the studies of over 2000 identical monozygotic twins who came from the same fertilized egg. These twins were chosen for the studies because they were separated at birth and grew up in different environments. They lived in different parts of the world, ate different foods, stuck to different day regiments, and were exposed to different parenting styles. To everyone’s joyful surprise, it turned out that if one of the twins had a certain serious illness like cancer or inflammatory disease only 38%-48% of the identical siblings would succumb to the same disease. Most twins grew up to have vastly different health outcomes. In fact, studies like these gave rise to a new science called Epigenetics. ‘Epi’ in Greek means ‘above’ something, so this word was coined to indicate that the bio-psycho-social environment of a human upbringing is much more important to genetic expression than the mere inheritance of genes themselves.
Epigenome is less material and more energetic in quality. It is affected by everything that happens to us and how we think about ourselves. Epigenomic changes acquired in our lifetime can be passed on to future generations without adherence to any previously known genetic rules, because traditional rules were created for material things in the Newtonian view of the universe.
When we add the element of energy to understanding our genes – a whole new world of potential outcomes unfolds in front of our eyes. This leads us into an exciting new era of becoming masters of our genes. But many of you have known the people who have exercised regularly, have been extremely cognizant of the nutritional benefits of what they ate – and still got sick with cancer, or autoimmune or inflammatory disease. What exactly happened to those people who seemingly did all the right things? Perhaps, they have ignored the energy variable of the epigenomic equation.
How we perceive the world and our place in it cannot be measured or quantified. It is made up of energy, but it triggers a biochemical cascade of the molecules of emotions which are then directly attaching to our cellular receptors. What happens next is that the message is triggered inside the cell which leads all the way into the nucleus where protein transcription and translation is initiated. As a result, disease expression can be activated or remain dormant, depending on the emotion which triggered it. That is why we often see how the passing of a loving spouse, will often lead to the surviving spouse’s subsequent untimely death. We frequently observe how psychological trauma can result in gastrointestinal disorders, heart attacks, diabetes, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It helps to remember that it does not take a monumental drama in your life to kill you. Daily common emotions which are sure to trigger genetic malfunctioning are: hatred, resentment, fear, anxiety, insecurity, feeling disempowered, feeling cheated, and the list goes on and on. It would serve us well then to cultivate and nourish the opposite state of mind: that of love, affection, freedom, security, comfort, balance, empowerment, and gratitude. These positive emotions are the key to the lock of epigenetics doorway behind which your genetic destiny is just up to you.
Svetlana Kogan, M.D. is a Board Certified Medical Doctor with 20 years of experience. She has appeared as a health expert on FOX, ABC, CBS, and NBC prime time TV, and has authored hundreds of publications for internet and print. She moved her Concierge Internal Medicine practice from Manhattan NYC to Naples, where her focus is on fusing traditional medicine with holistic approach to illness and prevention.
720 Fifth Ave S, Unit 209
Naples , FL 34102
Phone: (239) 676-6883