Arline T. Geronimus. (2013). Deep Integration: Letting the Epigenome Out of the Bottle Without Losing Sight of the Structural Origins of Population Health. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print.
Accepted on: Apr 5, 2013
Deep Integration: Letting the Epigenome Out of the Bottle Without Losing Sight of the Structural Origins of Population Health
Arline T. Geronimus, ScD
Arline T. Geronimus is with the Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, and the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print August 8, 2013: e1–e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301380)