"PULLMAN, Wash. -- A disease you are suffering today could be a result of your great-grandmother being exposed to an environmental toxin during pregnancy.
Researchers at Washington State University reached that remarkable conclusion after finding that environmental toxins can alter the activity of an animal's genes in a way that is transmitted through at least four generations after the exposure. Their discovery suggests that toxins may play a role in heritable diseases that were previously thought to be caused solely by genetic mutations. It also hints at a role for environmental impacts during evolution.
"It's a new way to think about disease," said Michael K. Skinner, director of the Center for Reproductive Biology. "We believe this phenomenon will be widespread and be a major factor in understanding how disease develops."
The work is reported in the June 3 issue of Science Magazine. .........."