Epigenetics and the Autosomal DNA of Human Populations: Clinical Perspectives and Personal Genome Tests

By Anne Marie Fine and Donald N. Yates.

Published by The International Journal of Community Diversity

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 26, 2014 $US5.00

Although the fields of direct-to-the-consumer DNA testing and genetic counseling have experienced rapid growth in the past five years—providing people with increasingly accurate analyses of their ancestry, admixture, family medical history, and risk factors for disease—the subtle role of epigenetics in heredity has not been comparably exploited in medical research or greatly appreciated by the wider public. The history of DNA testing in the consumer realm reveals a shift from sex-linked testing and easily-traced Y-chromosome and mitochondrial lines of descent to an emphasis on autosomal results, which are more diversified, complex, and determinative. Matches showing ancestral relatedness are now possible to autosomal populations based on forensic science, ethnic strains, and multi-generational markers—such as Native American and Jewish. Epigenetics, defined as the superstructure of genes, are sometimes linked to population genetics to explore the environmental effect upon genes, nutrition, and a host of transgenerational factors in susceptibility to diabetes, cancer, stress, and other diseases or conditions. Specific areas discussed here are the Dutch Hunger Winter Study, methylation, cancer, stress, and environmental toxins (including fungicides and air pollution and neurological diseases). The emerging field of epigenetics—with its emphasis on environment and nutrition—is thus superseding the older model of genetic determinism in dictating people's health decisions, self-identity, and ways of understanding their individual ancestry and ethnicity.

Keywords: Epigenetics, Autosomal DNA, Methylation, Chromatin Remodeling, Medicine, Longevity Studies, Genealogy

The International Journal of Community Diversity, Volume 13, Issue 1, July 2014, pp.27-42. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 26, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 691.438KB)).

Dr. Anne Marie Fine

Director, Fine Center for Natural Medicine, LLC, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

Dr. Anne Marie Fine is a licensed and practicing naturopathic physician, award-winning researcher, author, speaker, and a highly sought after national and international lecturer. While she practices as a primary care physician, her focus has been on environmental medicine, in which she has recently completed post doctoral training. She founded the Fine Center for Natural Medicine, L.L.C., a comprehensive health care clinic located in Scottsdale, AZ. Her health care vision includes preventive and natural medicine to meet the emerging medical challenges of our day, primarily chronic degenerative diseases brought on by faulty diet, exposure to environmental toxins, and lifestyle choices. She is also the founder of Fine Natural Products, LLC, a physician-owned company dedicated to providing organic, botanical, and vitamin-based skin care solutions that feed and nourish the skin. She is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, American Academy of Anti-Aging Physicians, and board eligible for the Naturopathic Association of Environmental Medicine. She graduated with high academic honors from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Donald N. Yates

Principal Investigator, DNA Spectrum, Phoenix, AZ, USA

Donald N. Yates is the founder and principal research scientist at DNA Consultants, a DNA testing company in Phoenix, Arizona, and chief research officer for DNA Spectrum, an autosomal DNA specialty marketing company in Seal Beach, California. He earned a Ph.D. in classical studies with a concentration on Medieval Latin at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has taught communications, history, and philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Georgia Southern University and St. John's University, among other universities. He is author or co-author of When Scotland Was Jewish, Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America, Old World Roots of the Cherokee, and numerous other publications in cultural history and American Indian studies.