Thoughts and their effects on our DNA


January 27, 2021

The science of ‘Epigenetics’ is gaining more exposure recently (although it has been around since the 1970’s when Dr Bruce Lipton, the pioneer of stem cell research first found that the environment in which a cell is placed, has impact on its genetic expression). These findings suggest that we are ‘not victims of our genes, but masters over our fate’ – our thoughts, feelings and emotions are biological phenomenon, affecting us on a cellular level. I’d recommend the cell biologist’s book Biology of Belief for real insight.

Why might that be useful for our health & well-being?

Research from Nobel Prize winning scientist, Elizabeth Blackburn and health psychologist Elissa Epel has looked at the destructive thoughts that damage our telomeres (which are the protective tips at the end of chromosomes – DNA molecules). In their book, The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier and Longerthey explain in detail how telomeres determine the impact they on our life and health.

Some of the key findings suggest that that too much stress related thinking speeds up cellular aging, which can make us more susceptible to illness and disease. In other words, our thoughts can damage our DNA. Blackburn and Epel found 5 patterns of thought which can damage our chromosomes.  


Cynical hostility: seething anger or regular thoughts that other people can’t be trusted. This can make us more prone to cardiovascular disease & metabolic illness.

Pessimism: always looking at the negative side of life fits with a longstanding of body of research that shows pessimists die earlier than optimists.

Rumination: re-playing worries over and over in your mind. This leads to stress hormones hanging around in the body long after the reason that created it. Over time, leading to elevated heart rate & prolonged high blood pressure.  

Thought suppressions: Pushing away unwanted or uncomfortable thoughts & feelings

Mind wandering: The mind wanders 47% of our waking hours (Harvard research study) and when our mind wanders we’re more stressed and unhappy than if we are engaged in the here and now.

Of course, it is human to experience a broad range of thought patterns and emotion. And part of our nature to have ‘negative’ thoughts and emotions – we needn’t punish ourselves for them and they shouldn’t be deemed as a problem. However, being aware of these mental tendencies is useful, by paying attention to how our mind works, we may be able to notice if these patterns are showing up too much. Mindfulness and meditation have been proven to help develop self-awareness, concentration and regulate emotions – all which can help us understand our minds some more. Other factors which can positively impact us on a cellular level include a healthy diet, managing our stress response, good quality sleep and regular exercise.

Check out the source article on @Forbes here: