Michael Skinner, PhD

We are accustomed to thinking about heritable conditions and diseases as depending completely on our genetic make-up. But research now suggests that prenatal exposures may have health effects that carry through for generations, even though the DNA of the genes remains unchanged.

What should we know about epigenetic science, and what are the implications for our health? How can we best protect our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

This Week’s Guest:

Michael Skinner, PhD, is Professor in the School of Biological Sciences of Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. His website is www.skinner.wsu.edu 

Listen to the Podcast:

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  1. M

    I’m confused. I understood from Dr. Skinner’s program that by far the most serious danger from toxins is to the fetus, children ages 1-5 (or something like that), teens, and during pregnancy. That was a big relief to me since I’m over 65.
    But the following week Dr. Low Dog was talking about BPA and toxins as if we should all be very concerned for our own health. I’m sure we need to care about toxins for fetuses, children, teens, and pregnant women, but do I need to spend a lot of time researching and avoiding toxins for myself?

  2. Edward Zillioux

    I am very interested in Dr. Skinner’s work on epigenetics. Of particular interest was his discussion on dose response regarding greater response seen in lower doses. However, I was waiting for him to cap this discussion with at least the mention of the virtually universal phenomenon of hormesis, where extremely low doses of a chemical, as well as radiation, typically elicit a beneficial response. That is, if one looks at the entire range of exposure you typically get a U-shaped dose response curve.
    Dr. Edward Calabrese, UMass-Amherst, has an impressive body of work on this subject for which he was awarded the 2009 Marie Curie Prize. His work indicates that the most fundamental dose response in toxicology and pharmacology is the hormetic-biphasic dose response relationship. These observations are leading to a major transformation in improving drug discovery, development, and in the efficiency of the clinical trial, as well as the scientific foundations for risk assessment and environmental regulation for radiation and chemicals. I encourage that the Peoples Pharmacy give consideration on inviting him to be on one of your programs.
    BTW, I enjoy your program very much.
    Ed Zillioux

  3. Annie

    I am 17 weeks pregnant with our second child. We use mostly phthalate and sulfate free products and we eat organic for everything we are able to afford (produce and some dairy). I’m very interested in the in-line water filtration system that Dr Skinner mentioned. We do have a britta water filter on our kitchen sink, but that is all. Is a britta filter the type of system he is talking about? Or do the filters for your entire home have a more extensive and thorough filtration?
    People’s Pharmacy response: Dr. Skinner did not mention brands; other researchers have told us that the Brita filters on the tap do quite a good job.

  4. Jack

    …..[You would be surprised at the negative reaction we have received from some]….
    I thought the interview was very informative. What was their criticism?

  5. JBK

    Your portrayal of epigenetics seemed a bit sensational. I’ve never heard of any controversy surround epigenetic inheritance. The concept of epigenetic regulation of genes is not really new, although the fact that it could be passed down is fairly new. I’m not sure that there is anyone upset by this idea.
    You would be surprised at the negative reaction we have received form some.

  6. dws

    Could the stress on people in WWII (and perhaps the civil war) may be expressing itself vis a vis the obesity epidemic in modern America? Possibly, in conjunction with fast food and factors in the environment and TV etc. Think about it.

  7. ALee

    While I have been aware of the impact of environment/lifestyle on one’s health concurrently, the findings and ongoing research of future generational impact was mind blowing. So my daughter in law who smoked and drank coffee during her recent pregnancy,(and with the two previous ones), is sending a long legacy of poor health to her grandchildren and theirs. My objections to her health violations were ignored, however the 2nd child has multiple allergies, and the new baby is covered in eczema with other allergies. HOW CAN WE FURTHER EDUCATE THIS CHILD BEARING GENERATION HOW TO PROTECT FUTURE GENERATIONS? My daughter in law is not ignorant but apparently did not receive the information easily. (She chose not to listen to my concerns, I am a nurse.)

  8. JA

    I found this show very thought provoking and I think the point is that exposure to chemicals in utero, during early life and during puberty creates the *potential* for disease later, and, surprisingly, even to the second and third generation!
    But, disease expression requires additional factors. I am 15 months older than my sister who died at age 50 when her breast cancer metastasized into liver and bone cancer. The environmental exposure we experienced in utero and as children was very similar. She died from cancer. I am cancer free. I am also part of the Sister Study (http://www.sisterstudy.niehs.nih.gov/English/index1.htm), which is studying the impact of environmental and genetic factors on breast cancer. My mother is a breast cancer survivor. At 97 she is now breast cancer free for five years! While eliminating potential factors is important. There’s more to the story.

  9. MN

    Thank you for the very informative show. I had heard a bit about epigenetics and Dr. Skinner’s explanations made this subject much clearer, although a lot more worrisome. I wonder how many people actually realize what we are doing to ourselves in the name of “progress”.

  10. Bob Ranney

    I think Dr. Skinner’s studies have profound impacts for our future. Has he published anything for the lay reader to explain his work and the conclusions he has reached re: its implications for the health and well-being of humankind in the future?

  11. Wendy lance

    Regarding dr skinners show now makes me hugely concerned regarding the increase ing rise of GMOs in our food supply and lack of regulation regarding these.

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