Researchers: Holocaust victims pass genetic damage caused by trauma onto their children

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NEW YORK, New York -  If you're one of those types who blame their parents for everything, here's more ammo you can use: researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital suggest people can pass genetic damage caused by trauma onto their children.

Scientists studied the children of 32 Holocaust survivors, and concluded that due to what's called "epigenetic inheritance", those children -now mature adults- were more likely to develop stress disorders.

"After stress, after trauma for example, a gene can be hypermethylated", explained neuroscientist Ezequiel Sztainberg, PhD.  "Many tags are added on the gene, and then the expression of this gene will be decreased."

These findings can be used to study the offspring of populations who have suffered horrible experiences such as torture, persecution or slavery.  But it seems like they could also help us understand how behaviors and factors such as smoking, use of drugs, stress and diet can affect future generations.

"Environmental modifications like addiction to drugs, alcohol… stress… anything like that can modify the DNA", the expert said.

So, now you know: the concept "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" might be great for a song… but in real life, things are more complicated.