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Deep Integration: Letting the Epigenome out of the Bottle without Losing Sight of the Structural Origins of Population Health and Disease

Publication Abstract

Geronimus, Arline T. 2013. "Deep Integration: Letting the Epigenome out of the Bottle without Losing Sight of the Structural Origins of Population Health and Disease." American Journal of Public Health, 103(suppl 1): S56-63.

Advances in stress physiology and molecular dynamics can illuminate population health inequality. The "weathering" hypothesis posits that socially structured, repeated stress process activation can accumulate and increase disease vulnerability across the life course in marginalized groups. The developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) hypothesis focuses on youthful programming for later life disease via epigenetic modifications to limiting uterine or early environments. Weathering and DOHaD are overlapping biopsychosocial models; yet, their emphases and implications vary. Evidence for the primacy of early development over experiences in young through middle adulthood for explaining population health inequality is lacking. By considering weathering and DOHaD together, we call for biomedical researchers to be more cautious in their claims about the social world and for a broader range of social researchers—including qualitative ones—to collaborate with them.

DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301380 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3786760. (Pub Med Central)

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