EPIGENETICS – what is it?
When the human genome was first mapped in 2000, the belief was that if you knew the genes, you would know the person. What we now know, though, is that genes not only control – they are also controlled. A person‘s genome – in other words, all the approximately 25,000 genes – does not explain why some of us develop Alzheimer‘s or cancer, struggle to deal with stress or turn grey prematurely. However, this can now be explained by a new branch of biological research: EPIGENETICS.
Epigenetics is the foundation for the link between the genome (our genes) and the environment. It plays a role in determining the circumstances under which a particular gene is switched on and when it is silenced again.
So rather than changing genetic information, epigenetics control whether a gene is “switched on or off”.
The human body contains more than 200 cell types. Almost every single one of them contains the same DNA sequence, but not all the genes are active in every cell. When Spanish researchers investigated genetically identical twins between the ages of 3 and 74, it was quite clear that there were hardly any differences in the epigenetic codes of the youngest twins – but vast ones in the oldest ones. Over the course of their lifetimes, twins go through different experiences, develop different habits or find themselves living in different circumstances – and accordingly, their epigenetic codes can also develop in different directions.
»GENES are only pencil and paper.
YOU write your skin‘s story yourself!«
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR SKIN?
External influences such as light and environmental stress, different rhythms of life and mental impressions influence our genes, and thus also the ageing processes of our skin. Our body reacts to the various influences by changing the gene regulation, its activity or passivity.
If this is transferred to the skin then, for instance, the gene that is key for collagen production is deactivated. This becomes evident as a less well-defined facial contour. If we change this epigenetic information and activate the gene, in other words remind it of the function it once learnt, then the facial contours will also become visibly firmer.
Thanks to the findings in epigenetics, we are today able to intervene in the skin‘s ageing process and reverse it.