Our genes are not our destiny and what happens to us can affect them just as much as they affect us. A study of the brains of 36 people who died suddenly compared 12 suicide victims who had suffered from abuse (either physical, sexual or by neglect), 12 suicide victims who had not suffered abuse and 12 people who had died accidentally. Child abuse alters the body's response to stress and increases the risk of suicide and the researchers (from McGill University in Canada) looked for changes in genes involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function. They found genetic changes in a gene called the neuron-specific-glucocorticoid receptor in the abuse victims but not in the other suicide victims, or the accident victims, confirming findings from previous studies on rats.
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