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Can Happiness be Inherited?

A new study suggests that our feelings in our lifetime can affect our children.

Dr. Halabe Bucay suggests that a wide range of chemicals that our brain generates when we are in different moods could affect 'germ cells' (eggs and sperm), the cells that ultimately produce the next generation. Such natural chemicals could affect the way that specific genes are expressed in the germ cells, and hence how a child develops.

In his article in the latest issue of Bioscience Hypotheses, Bucay of Research Center Halabe and Darwich, Mexico, suggested that the hormones and chemicals resulting from happiness, depression and other mental states can affect eggs and sperm, resulting in lasting changes in our children at the time of their conception.

Brain chemicals, such as endorphins, and drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, are known to have significant effects on sperm and eggs, altering the patterns of genes that are active in them.

"It is well known, of course, that parental behavior affects children, and that the genes that a child gets from its parents help shape that child's character," says Bucay. "My paper suggests a way that the parent's psychology before conception can actually affect the child's genes."

"This is an intriguing idea" commented Dr. William Bains, editor of Bioscience Hypotheses. "We wanted to publish it to see what other scientists thought, and whether others had data that could support or disprove it. That is what our journal is for, to stimulate debate about new ideas, the more groundbreaking, the better."

Journal reference:

Halabe Bucay et al. Endorphins, personality, and inheritance: Establishing the biochemical bases of inheritance. Bioscience Hypotheses, May 7, 2009; DOI: 10.1016/j.bihy.2009.03.003