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Epigenetics: How Environment Shapes Our Genes [Kindle Edition]

Richard C. Francis

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"The potential is staggering... The age of epigenetics has arrived." Time, January 2010


Goodbye, genetic blueprint. . . . The first book for general readers ?on the game-changing field of epigenetics.

The burgeoning new science of epigenetics offers a cornucopia of insights—some comforting, some frightening. For example, the male fetus may be especially vulnerable to certain common chemicals in our environment, in ways that damage not only his own sperm but also the sperm of his sons. And it’s epigenetics that causes identical twins to vary widely in their susceptibility to dementia and cancer. But here’s the good news: unlike mutations, epigenetic effects are reversible. Indeed, epigenetic engineering is the future of medicine.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 738 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 257 Seiten
  • Verlag: W. W. Norton & Company; Auflage: 1 (13. Juni 2011)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B0053GMLRQ
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Nicht aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #339.878 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.1 von 5 Sternen  42 Rezensionen
80 von 86 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen High hopes, but was disappointed 26. Juli 2011
Von T. Eagan - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
There is definitely a market for a good popular science book about epigenetics, and I eagerly awaited this one. But it fell short of my expectations. It simply is too short, and too lacking in depth. For the epigenetics of inheritance and evolution, there already is an excellent book out there: Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life (Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology) . However, the book by Jablonka & Lamb is getting a little old (in this field, things sure develop rapidly), and it lacks the issues that I was most interested in - the effects of epigenetic change on health. However, I'll restate, for the evolutionary side, the Jablonka & Lamb book is great.

Back to the book by Francis, 160 pages is just too short. I will acknowledge the great many notes and large bibliography included, but the first 160 pages are so superficial, I doubt the author finds the right audience for the notes/bibliography.

The author's writing style and explanations are fine, so if you want a quick overview on a topic of which you have zero knowledge before, this book will serve you well.
However, for many of us, we must wait for a book with more depth, or a vastly expanded second edition.

For an example of excellent and in depth popular science writing, try Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life.
44 von 49 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Engaging epigenetics 22. Juni 2011
Von Jerry M. Wright - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a fascinating introduction to the new field of Epigenetics - a word to which most people react blankly. Most have no idea what how epigenetics changes the way that we conceptualize human development and inheritance, as well as conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer's disease.

Francis starts each chapter with a well-chosen, true story or observation that serves to illustrate the main points of that chapter. Frequently he circles back to the information presented in earlier chapters and it is clear that he is slowly building, in completely understandable terms, the reader's ability to understand the implications and intricacies of this burgeoning field of study, culminating in an outstanding discussion of stem cells.

From the Dutch famine of World War II to the growing obesity crisis to the fact that the experience of past generations can influence the current one - and the scary thought that what we do and experience will also have ramifications for future generations - the book is well-written, witty, and very timely. Don't be surprised if you start to read and can't stop until you are done!
18 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Readable epigenesis 6. Oktober 2011
Von tles - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This is a pretty accessible treatment of a somewhat arcane topic for non-biologists. It is probably too advanced for the totally lay reader, but for a person willing to make the effort to understand what is being said, it is really important. Epigenetics is one of the most important avenues for understanding many of our modern maladies (e.g. diabetes, cancer), and will eventually lead to new and more effective treatment regimens for many conditions. This work presents the basic ideas of epigenesis pretty clearly. In my mind it doesn't go far enough to detail what the processes are that result in its implications. However, it is a start.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Debunking the conception that genes are the controls of the activities that constitute our lives 23. Juli 2011
Von Didaskalex - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Neither classical genetics nor an environmental explanation suffices to unravel (some) phenomenon. But the new science of epigenetics - which deals with long-term alterations in gene behavior - supplies a key causal link. Epigenetics involves chemical changes in cells, sometimes random and sometimes environmentally caused." -- Julia Klein

A month ago, my second nephew, a medical doctor about fifty years old fainted while playing soccer, but got a lifesaving CPR by one of his friends on site, and was miraculously saved. Following up on his recovery, I briefed his wife that her uncle-in-law, while operating on a urology patient, had a heart attack at the same early age as his grand dad, both passed away on the spot. Asking her if she could ask her brothers-in-law to take a medical check. The Post Master's Nurse Practitioner, who applied her genetic basic knowledge, replied, "I have already booked him for one!" Thanks to better awareness of heart attack signs and symptoms and improved treatments, most people who have a heart attack now survive. I think it is time, for all of us to worry periodically; our choices may endanger our health, and our lifestyle do impact our genetic code and that of our children.

Epigenetics is defined as the science of genetic expression, a description that conceals what might be the most relevant research field that may effectively help our healthcare, and cut its cost, by eliminating identifiable genetic defects. Environmental stress, is recently proved to impact an individual's physiology so tragically that the resulting biological scars could be inherited by succeeding generations. These scars don't alter a parent's DNA, but they can, even so, inflict damage on children. Half a century ago, when the Nazis retaliated with a food embargo resulting in thousands of Dutch starvation to death, the consequence of the famine were not limited to the WWII generation, but extended to children of malnourished mothers, who were born underweight. Driven by similar events, later conducted studies has shown that the babies grew up subject to a wide range of ailments, from obesity and diabetes to breast cancer, and depression.

Other recent studies has shown that men who started smoking as teenagers caused their future sons to be significantly obese. Obesity is only the tip of the ill heath iceberg, including Alzheimer's, autism, cancer, diabetes and schizophrenia, that epigenetics could hold the key to figure out. To his credit, Francis, profits radically from evident analogy and using proper example, performs a compelling task of clarifying some controversial concepts. He introduces epigenetics with reference to identical twins. We expect such zygotic twins, classified as genetic clones, to show resemblance in qualities, character, and appearance. But there are powerful exceptions, where one twin was born with Kallmann syndrome, while the other appeared normal. But the twins shared an impaired sense of smell, a symptom associated with that sexual development disorder. Francis explains, this was the effect of epigenetics, that define the extent to which the Kallmann syndrome associated genes are expressed.

Science writer Francis attempts to debunk the conception that genes are the controls of the activities that constitute our lives, coordinating our development and deciding our susceptibility for disease or behavioral traits. Epigenetics is the first book for general readers on this fascinating and important topic. The book is driven by stories such as José Canseco and steroids, the breeding of mules and Tazmanian devils and contagious cancer. Yes, genes are important, writes the author, but they are subject to regulation by forces that can turn them on or off, sometimes for a lifetime, sometimes across generations.
13 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Nice overview, but don't expect explanations 21. August 2012
Von crik - Veröffentlicht auf
This book gives a nice overview on WHERE epigenetics plays a role. On the one hand it looks on the effects of diet, stress and other environmental factors on long-term gene regulation, and on the other hand it explored how epigenetic regulation is influencing many aspects of our lives from obesity to disease outcome. It fails however in clearly explaining HOW this happens. I doubt anybody not yet familiar with the subjects remembers after the reading how all this works with methylation, histones etc.

Most chapters start with a look back on some important researchers and their findings and then explore what role epigenetics played in their experiments. Thus the book gives also some nice insights into the history of biological research. Unfortunately, in some cases the author decided to start instead with lengthy descriptions of a movie, just to stress out that people react differently to stress, or with personal thinkings on Thai diets. These parts are weak, and it is surprising that the author could not find more scientific examples to explain his ideas.

The book fails also to explore the ethical consequences of epigenetics. Obviously, if we learn that our behavior today such as smoking or exposure to stress will affect our grand children, this will have huge ethical implications. Ethical issues are discussed briefly in the context of embryonic stem cells, but this discussion is very poor (e.g. constantly mixing up religious and ethical grounds), and the book clearly lacks to highlight the full complexity of questions coming up.

Given that the book is only 160 pages long and one can read it quit fast, I still recommend it to anybody interested in a first overview on the subject.
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