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Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives--and Our Lives Change Our Genes Hardcover – April 15, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-1455549443 ISBN-10: 1455549444 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455549444
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455549443
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2014: In the last microsecond of the scientific age, we’ve figured out that our brains change throughout our life, adapting for good or ill based on lifestyle choices we make. But most of us haven’t yet realized the extent to which our genes also remain flexible, making Dr. Sharon Moalem’s Inheritance nothing short of revolutionary. Drawing on bleeding-edge science and sometimes heartbreaking stories of individuals he’s treated for rare genetic anomalies, Moalem explains how your DNA’s constant shape-shifting is “mediated and orchestrated by how you live, where you live, the stresses you face, and the things you consume.” Most fascinating (and terrifying, especially for parents) is evidence of how experiences--from trauma like bullying to times of happiness--can alter your genes so profoundly that the effects are passed down for generations. But his message is ultimately one of empowerment: we’re accelerating into a world where understanding your unique genetic inheritance will give you the power to eat, exercise, and seek medical treatment tailored to what your body really needs, where we’ll have “the opportunity to transform what we get and what we give,” altering the course of our destiny. --Mari Malcolm

From Booklist

In the biological tug-of-war between nature and nurture that determines exactly who you are, there is no clear-cut winner. To explain why, physician-scientist Moalem invokes two important concepts, flexible inheritance and epigenetics. Flexible inheritance is defined as “the relationship between what our genes do to us and what we do to our genes.” Turns out that genetic traits can change. Genes are surprisingly sensitive. How we live influences our DNA. Moalem likens genes to “thousands upon thousands of little light switches, some are turning on while others are turning off.” An example of epigenetics is how a chemical (betaine) contained in spinach can ward off genetic mutations that give rise to cancer. Many rare hereditary metabolic disorders are discussed in the book. The ways that doctors utilize the study of genetics in their medical practices are described. Human beings are more than the product of a genetic blueprint. As Moalem writes, “We are the genetic culmination of our life experiences, as well as every event our parents and ancestors ever lived through and survived.” --Tony Miksanek

More About the Author

Sharon Moalem MD, PhD, is an award-winning scientist, physician, New York Times and international bestselling author of the books Survival of the Sickest and How Sex works. His much anticipated third book, Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes, will be released in April 2014. Dr. Moalem's research and writing blends medicine, genetics, history and biology, to explain how the human body works in new and fascinating ways. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

Dr. Moalem's scientific work led to the discovery of Siderocillin, a novel antibiotic compound effective against multidrug resistant or 'superbug' microorganisms. He has also been awarded 20 patents for inventions related to biotechnology and human health, cofounded two biotechnology companies, and served as an associate editor for the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Dr. Moalem and his research have been featured in The New York Times, TIME magazine, New Scientist, and on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Today, and CNN.

Customer Reviews

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Very informative and interesting read.
tracy vanhoutan
As a parent of a child with a rare disease, I was extremely interested in this book from the beginning.
Kayla Brumbeloe
If you want to sound smart at a party read this book!!
M

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J.E. Taylor on April 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
"Inheritance" is compelling reading; a real page turner! As an adult patient with the rare genetic disease CADASIL (Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy with Subcortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy), from a mutation on the NOTCH3 gene, I found this book to be enlightening in many ways, especially how all of us, rare patients or not, are at this very moment changing our destiny by our genetic expression. I am inspired to have my full DNA sequenced now, so I can better learn what foods, vitamins, medications, environmental factors, etc. are helping me or hurting me. I am so grateful to Dr. Moalem for this book and its contents, for his dedicated work with rare patients, and for his discovery of a new antibiotic called Siderocillin to combat superbug infections. I highly recommend this book for anyone with DNA.
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Format: Hardcover
I received an advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via Goodread's First-reads Giveaway program.

This popular science book is a broad overview of genetic and epigenetic inheritance, basically exactly what the subtitle says. The introduction oversells the the epigenetic focus (how life experience or environment can lead the changes in DNA that are not strictly sequence-based) because the majority of the book does stay within the realms of traditional sequence-based inherited genetic variation. Moreover, given Moalem's specialty, the focus is not so much on inheritance itself, nor even the specific mechanisms of inheritance.

Instead this book really comes down to these ideas: 1) There are a lot of genetic disorders. 2) Individually these disorders are often rare. 3) It is fairly likely that an given individual though will have some kind of disorder. In other words, everyone is unique; most all of us have unique rare disorders of some severity or another. The truth of this may surprise some, as may the implications: namely that any health advisories are tailored for the 'average population'. But no one is average. So not everyone can take the same amounts of medication. Eating high amounts of fat may be great for some people. Eating any fruits may be really bad for someone else. Running is good exercise for your spouse, it might give you a heart-attack, etc.

"Inheritance" thereby sweeps across a wide realm of human genetic variation, threading topics together under common themes. Moalem avoids getting bogged down into a lot of detail, making this book of greatest interest to the general public with medical interests, or those in particular who find medical anomalies interesting.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating science told through intriguing stories. It will break the rules you learned about the genetic code and give you new ones to ponder. Dr. Moalem makes the complex simple. This book will not only influence you as you think about you own genetic code but will influence health policy for years to come. “When it comes to genetics, the rare informs the common.” A must read! C. Dillon
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Annette A. on April 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is the third of Dr. Moalems' books I have greedily plunged into. And like the other two I came away amazed at his ability to put very complex subjects into language that is understandable, no matter ones level of medical knowledge. For me, the biggest take away of the book is not that we inherit our traits, good and bad, but that what we do today can influence our genes that we pass along to future generations

i would encourage anyone wanting or needing to find out more about our past forebearers to read this book. I come away thinking that we are a better world to have devoted researchers such as Dr. Moalem

Annette Austin
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Furlong on April 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
IAn amazing read! I was reminded of an old film, vintage 1966, Fantastic Voyage. Long ago, this film captured me, held me hostage to the wonders of the human body. While there were a lot of issues surrounding the cold war and miniaturizing matter, it was focused on trying to save a life. Following an attempted assignation, a scientist was alive but comatose. Using miniaturization technology, a small group of scientists get onboard a submarine (proteus), traveling though the body in order to remove a clot lodged in the scientist's brain. I recall sitting in the theater amazed and mesmerized, by the ‘view’.
INHERITANCE expands our Fantastic Voyage, this time shedding light on the uncertainties and unknowns of those early years, laying out our genetic map, the small changes in our genes that make us unique, wonderful creatures; the genes that are disease causing and those that are protective as well as the environmental influences that will change who we become. Dr. Moalem’s book is friendly, an easy read and an adventure that is here today for all of us.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Wuchich on April 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As the parent of a child with a rare genetic disease, I desire to learn as much as I am able to comprehend about the field of genetics and what can be done to improve the quality of life for my son. In one book, and in an easy to read and understand format, Dr. Moalem has expanded my knowledge exponentially. The concepts he describes are intriguing, and the way he conveys them in layman's terms sparked many "aha" moments for me as I moved through the book. What is normally a very dry and tedious subject matter Dr. Moalem actually manages to make entertaining and at times almost fun. He does balance this approach with solid science and does underscore the seriousness of advancements in genetic understanding and the potential societal consequences they may produce. All in all after reading this book I am even more optimistic about the chances that we can discover a way to effectively combat the debilitating symptoms of alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC) and give AHC Champions worldwide a better quality of life than they have today. I believe every parent of a child with a rare genetic disorder would benefit from reading this book.
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