Is Poverty in Our Genes?
Scientists believe that a poverty gene determines our financial well-being.
BY: Corine Gatti
Scientists believe that a poverty gene determines our financial well-being. In 2006 Scottish scientists claimed they found a poverty gene contributed to the rapid aging of those living in poverty compared to those brought up in middle or upper class environments.
Deprivation can jump start the immune system by eating up spare cells that combat aging. This transaction biologically ages a person’s body up to 10 years. This also sets off the immune system causing constant inflammation and chronic disease.
Another finding was the chromosomes of minority children living in lack were shortened due to chronic stress in ages as young as nine compared to children in upper class homes. Telomere length was used as a biomarker of stress, according to a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We document significant associations between low income, low maternal education, unstable family structure, and harsh parenting and TL. These effects were moderated by genetic variants in serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways,” researcher’s found.
Children with more advantages have the same genes, but adverse environments over a period of time can put the body into survival mode.
“Consistent with the differential susceptibility hypothesis, subjects with the highest genetic sensitivity scores had the shortest TL when exposed to disadvantaged social environments and the longest TL when exposed to advantaged environments.”
The Science Channel’s hit show “Through the Wormhole” with host Morgan Freeman examines if poverty is encoded into our genes. Freeman, who grew up poor in Memphis, Tenn. and collected to bottles to earn money and worked himself out of poverty, disagreed.
In the U.S. you can work hard to achieve success and people are not genetically predisposed to poverty.
How does he know?
“I did it,” the award-winning actor told MSNBC. “The idea that it is genetic is something to talk about. We are not genetically programmed according to the level of birth. Your genetic programming is your generic programming. Your environmental input, your home life, what your parents can provide in terms of preparation is what makes all the difference.”