My grandfather smoked for 75 years. My grandchildren are doomed.

Posted on November 4, 2010

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Thanks to this week’s issue of Newsweek, I now know that “epigenetic changes in sperm are carried forward transgenerationally.”  Don’t even bother to check your online dictionary.  I’ll translate (I’m a full-service blogger): If your great-grandparents or parents or you or your partner participated in a potentially damaging lifestyle (Oh, let’s say like consuming the contents of vacuum cleaner bags on a regular basis) your very genetic code will change and such changes will be passed down for generations.  I’ll wait until you take an anti-depressant before I continue. 

This goes beyond consumables.  For example, one’s mother’s stimulating experiences during her youth, apparently affect one’s memory during adolescence.  My mother was forced to drop out of high school to raise her young siblings.  Her life was not exactly what you’d call “enriched.” This why I now know that my always poor memory (which I heretofore had attributed to the onset of peri-menopause from age 12), may be due, instead, to her non-enriched life experiences. 

Before you go completely off the deep end, the research shows that reverse is true as well.  An “enriched” lifestyle (I’m thinking this doesn’t include coffee Haagen Dazs on demand) can positively affect one’s grandchildren, even if one himself doesn’t have an enriched lifestyle.  Whoopee for that.  My kids certainly had an enriched lifestyle.  Maybe that will in part compensate for generations of blue collar (and worse) struggle that preceded their privileged generation.

                                                                                                                         

Astute readers will now be asking, “But wait just a darn minute!  Surely an individual’s own life experiences count!!!”  My answer is, I certainly hope so.  Otherwise, why the hell else did I read “Green Eggs and Ham” every night before bedtime to my daughter from approximately age one to the time she went away to college?

 Is there any optimistic conclusion to all this?  I have no idea.  If you do, let me know.  We certainly can’t undo what has been done.  The journalist who wrote the piece ends with the following:  “Consider it a warning to hold off on your unhealthy behavior until after you have had children.”  Let’s hope she just has a really bad sense of humor

                                                                                   

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