Finding Molecular Changes that Matter – The Exercise Example
Why does exercise help the bodies of many people? We still do not understand it all, but new molecular level studies are starting to suggest some potential answers. For example, some initial studies indicate that exercise influences when and how some genes are and are not "methylated" (a chemical change on the "exterior" structure of the gene). Methylation matters because it can turn a gene on or off, and that’s important if, for example, it’s a gene involved in creating or burning off fat. These studies are summarized in a useful NYT article by Gretchen Reynolds.
Ms. Reynold’s story and the studies are great examples of why we really need to continue funding research into basic science. They also illustrate the advances in science that will increasingly matter in toxic tort litigation. Some of the described studies instead could have been aimed at, for example, finding different methylation patterns in persons exposed to any one of many alleged or actual "toxins."