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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 2568635, 17 pages
Review Article

The Impact of External Factors on the Epigenome: In Utero and over Lifetime

1Cancer Epigenetics Laboratory, Instituto Universitario de Oncología del Principado de Asturias (IUOPA), HUCA, Universidad de Oviedo, 33006 Oviedo, Spain
2Servicio de Salud Laboral, Instituto Asturiano de Prevención de Riesgos Laborales, 33006 Oviedo, Spain

Received 19 February 2016; Revised 12 April 2016; Accepted 26 April 2016

Academic Editor: Max Costa

Copyright © 2016 Estela G. Toraño et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Epigenetic marks change during fetal development, adult life, and aging. Some changes play an important role in the establishment and regulation of gene programs, but others seem to occur without any apparent physiological role. An important future challenge in the field of epigenetics will be to describe how the environment affects both of these types of epigenetic change and to learn if interaction between them can determine healthy and disease phenotypes during lifetime. Here we discuss how chemical and physical environmental stressors, diet, life habits, and pharmacological treatments can affect the epigenome during lifetime and the possible impact of these epigenetic changes on pathophysiological processes.