Amid all the thousands of trials that examine whether drugs are safe for us to use, Vance Trudeau asks who is looking out for our children and grandchildren.
We are the most highly medicated generation in history. Yet Trudeau, who studies hormones and the brain at the University of Ottawa, says we know little about what effects the drugs are taken today may cause decades from now, to future generations.
“These are major, major, important questions,” he said. “In the last 10 years, there are now a few key examples where scientists are showing the effects of certain chemicals that get transferred across generations.”
But how aware are we of possible effects of drugs on future human generations?
“We’re not. That’s why these three studies are super important. Now we have to wake up and ask the question: What are the effects on the next generation?
“Not all pharmaceuticals will give a generational effect. But there is now a pattern developing (where) we have to start asking the question: Is there something beneficial passed on or is there something negative passed on?
The question falls into the field known as epigenetics, literally “beyond genetics.” This looks at how our chromosomes undergo physical changes through our lives, and how we may pass down some changes we acquire during our lifetime to our children, and even to our grandchildren as a kind of “biological memory.”
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