How Fathers Can Permanently Alter Their Child's Genes
Fatherhood will never be the same.
Researchers are showing mind-bending, almost bizarre ways that fathers (and
mothers in most cases) can alter their children's genes. Fathers have much,
much more influence on their child's genetic material than simply donating half
the DNA at conception. In fact, that is just the beginning.
Yes, DNA is important. However, it turns out
that one's DNA, including that of your child, is controlled by the associated
epigenomes, i.e. key molecules that are attached to the DNA. For example, if
methyl groups are attached to the DNA, then the genes are turned off so that it cannot produce proteins, etc.
Histones, or "coils" as they are called, do the
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Histones and methylation do not alter the DNA, which is critical of course, but
they do alter their functionality. It does you little good to have good
genes that are turned off. Here are several recent examples:
1. Care at Childbirth. Scientists have discovered in animal studies
that how a rat is cared for at childbirth profoundly affects his or her
epigenetics. For example, rats that are neglected for have their stress genes
capped by methyl groups. This means that the hippocampus of these infant
rats are much less sensitive to stress hormones. And the real point is this:
this is a permanent change. These rats are forever altered simply
by their post-natal care or lack thereof.  Of course, the point is that, even
though it is foreign for many of us guys, a little affection goes a long ways
when it comes to the little guys. Your actions can literally alter their genes.
2. Prenatal Low Protein Diet. Researchers recently discovered that (in rats at
least) how the father eats can actually alter his child's epigenome. They found
that if fathers ate an unhealthily low protein diet, the child's cholesterol
synthesis was permanently altered. The reason? The epigenome was
 Human epidemiological studies indicate that this leads children in these
circumstances to an elevated risk of diabetes and heart disease.
3. Prenatal High Fat Diet. Researchers have also discovered direct
evidence, again in an animal study, that if a father eats a high fat
diet, the offspring got much fatter and had diabetes. 
Researchers have long observed the same pattern in humans.
NOTE: It's not just you by the way: for examples showing how Mom's pregnancy lifestyle can alter her
child's genome, see this link on The Importance of the Prenatal Lifestyle.
You are what you eat? Maybe so. But it looks like you are just as much what your father eats as well...
Discover, June 2010, p.27.