Is it worth to be afraid of so-called bad genes? Are good health and longevity written in your DNA? In fact, genetics may explain many diseases and health conditions. But there is much more…
A brief guide to chromosomes and mutations
Our body is a complex construction. Each cell of it contains a DNA molecule, tightly twisted spiral that stores important genetic information. These molecules are compactly packaged in the form of chromosomes. Each gene is some kind of an instruction, according to which the body forms proteins for a variety of functions, from the construction of tissues to the regulation of the fine work of the brain.
How do mutations occur? Sometimes it happens because of the substitutions in the sequence of bases that make up the gene. We may compare it with misspelling. So, such changes lead to the formation of a protein in the body with a significantly altered function.
Actually, mutations can occur not only inside the gene, but also in whole chromosomes. Such significant changes usually lead to serious diseases. For example, people with Down syndrome have three 21st chromosomes instead of two.
Bad genes: most frequent diseases
Commonly, each person is a healthy carrier for up to ten mutations associated with rare genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs disease. Also, among most common hereditary diseases are hemochromatosis, phenylketonuria, congenital deafness or blindness, Huntington’s chorea, and polycystic kidney disease.
Unfortunately, such diseases cannot be completely cured. On the other hand, with the help of therapy, it is possible to relieve the symptoms and prolong life.
Are parents to blame?
Mutations not just come from your parents or grandparents. One can also acquire them during life. For example, it may be an impact of x-rays, or carcinogens in hazardous production.
What is the role of genetics in frequent diseases?
The most common diseases, including atherosclerosis, gout, diabetes, obesity and tooth decay, have a certain genetic component. But lifestyle and nutrition also matter.
People tend to associate things that are difficult to explain or understand with genetics. But mind that many conditions really associated with so-called bad genes need proper treatment, anyway.