Poverty in our genes. Think about that for a second.
In a recent genetics study by faculty at Northwestern University, researchers found that an individual’s socioeconomic status is present in the genetic makeup that makes us… us.
The research specifically identifies that this “visibility” is distinct in people who have succeeded generations of poverty.
The study analyzed the genetic makeup of 489 participants starting in 1983 from a pool of native Philippine residents. Trigger warning: the next sentence may hurt your brain. Through the very complex process of gene expression, DNA methylation, or DNAm, comes into existence when a methyl (CH3) group, or a derivative of methane, is added into our DNA code. The study suggests that there is a direct link between DNAm and a person’s socioeconomic status.
In the DNA that was analyzed from subjects with a “lower” socioeconomic status, DNAm was far more present in their genetic makeup than in the DNA of those who have a lineage of a “higher” socioeconomic status.
The larger message to be received is this: the process of gene expression that allows for DNAm to exist is believed to play an important role in the health outcomes of individuals affected by generational poverty.
The lead author of the published research, Thomas McDade went as far as to state that, “There is no nature vs. nurture,” in an interview with Science Daily.
That is no minor statement.
Given that we wholeheartedly trust science, this finding could mean this:
If you are born into poverty, your health outcomes are embedded in you. There’s not much you can do to avoid the risks you innately carry in your genes thanks to your lineage’s historical battle against poverty. Meaning, that our fate is far more at the mercy of randomness than we would like to accept.
Imagine this. Family “100” has a history of 4 generations that lived through poverty. The men die young thanks to XYZ disease, leaving the women and children in the “100” family with immense financial burdens. Lets say that the children are limited in resources and are unable to obtain a formal education. Instead, the children take on the role of household breadwinners. Eventually they reproduce their own children before they die from the XYZ disease that their father has passed onto them. Their children go through a similar experience.
The cycle continues.
This is not to say that a person can not detach from a life of poverty. Just that there are innate genetic obstacles to do so.