How DNA methylation can affect mortality and other stories . . .

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2141 (Published 19 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2141

There was once a nice clear line of determinism in genetics. Everything was written in the DNA, and if only we could examine it closely enough we could predict the destiny of our bodies. But now we know that DNA changes all the time, especially through methylation, and the processes of epigenetics can blur cause and effect. A study from Saarland, Germany, shows that low methylation intensity at F2RL3 is strongly associated with mortality (International Journal of Epidemiology 2014, doi:10.1093/ije/dyu006). The remarkable thing is that low methylation at this locus is strongly associated with smoking, and that changes here seem to mediate most of the lethal effects of inhaling tobacco smoke.

Doctors confronted with a child whose asthma worries them usually use five days of prednisone in the US, or five days of prednisolone in the UK, with the alternative in either country being dexamethasone, either as a single dose or two …

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