Epigenetic changes are implicated in aging and cancer. Sometimes, it is clear whether the causing agent of the condition is a genetic factor or epigenetic. In other cases, the causative factor is unclear, and could be either genetic or epigenetic. Is there a general role for epigenetic changes in cancer and aging? Here, I present the paradigm of causative roles executed by epigenetic changes. I discuss cases with clear roles of the epigenome in cancer and aging, and other cases showing involvement of other factors. I also present the possibility that sometimes causality is difficult to assign because of the presence of self-reinforcing loops in epigenetic regulation. Such loops hinder the identification of the causative factor. I provide an experimental framework by which the role of the epigenome can be examined in a better setting and where the presence of such loops could be investigated in more detail.
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- histone modification
- self reinforcing loops