Bringing together epigenetics and social epidemiology
Epigenetics and social epidemiology are two independent domains of knowledge our culture hasn’t yet integrated. But as soon as we consider them in relation with one another, they spring a Distant Early Warning we definitely ought to be aware of. Indeed, to understand why the 'good health' of any population does not mirror its degree of economic development, we must consider how 'good' or 'bad' the epigenetic imprints of their primal, life-shaping environment may have been .
1. Epigenetics shows that the quality of our environment determines the way our DNA is used: Our personal genetic heritage is set at conception. Then, it is our DNA’s environment that immediately acts as a unique shaper of our whole life. From the outer circles of this environment (social, paternal, maternal) to the innermost ones (interstitial, cytoplasmic, epi-genomic), events of all kind, intensity and duration are constantly adjusting the degree of activity and/or inhibition of each and every element of our genome through epigenetic processes [13, 14]. The earlier these events – i.e., "experiences" or "lack of experiences" – occur over our embryonic, fetal and postnatal developments, the more effective they are .
2. Social-epidemiology reveals that inequality is bad for everyone: Wilkinson & Pickett’s finding that financial inequality and health indices are negatively correlated in developed countries  raised the question: why? Lack of access to medical care – mostly for people with small incomes – appears not to be a satisfactory explanation . The current hypothesis is that inequality, within rich communities, is responsible for a societal stress that affects everyone, rich or poor , old or young, with multiple consequences on health and social behavior [16,19, 20, 21].
Be that as it may, former sayings like “DNA makes the person” must be put aside. It was almost like claiming that “the watercolor box makes the picture”, when it's the watercolor box’s environment that makes the picture. From the very beginning, this environment is the painter who uses the boxed set of pigments with a watered brush. A very complex environment indeed, whose interrelated elements span from this painter's whole life of sensorial, affective and social experiences from which his personality, sensibility, skills and general motivations have resulted, to his sensorial and affective motivations at the very moment he starts conceiving the picture.