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The rapidly expanding science of epigenetics turns on its head everything we learnt from Darwin about acquired characteristics not being inherited. There is plenty of experimental evidence in animals that specific environmental influences can permanently alter DNA, and increasing hints that it might be important in humans. A study from the US has suggested that epigenetic effects might be passed on not just to the offspring of those exposed, but also to a second generation (Kioumourtzoglou MA …
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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