Q. I always use three lumps of sugar in my coffee; not one, not two, not four, but three—just like my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather. That proves this behavior is inherited and carried on a gene, right?

A. I am unaware that a gene has been identified related to the number of lumps of sugar someone prefers in their coffee. That doesn’t mean this tendency was not inherited, but likely it is not inherited in the sense of Genetics, the DNA-related characteristics passed through the 46 chromosomes and 25,000 genes that have been identified in humans.

Some behaviors (or a push toward a specific behavior) may be transmitted from generation to generation via protein strands in the cell nucleus (in cells that have a nucleus). Sometimes referred to as “cellular memory,” this type of transmitted information can explain behaviors and even illnesses that tend to run in families. Epigenetics is the science that studies this type of generational transmission.

Current belief is that you can be impacted potentially by cellular memory from 3-4 generations back, and that you can transmit cellular memory to 3-4 succeeding generations.