Surprises of heredity: what diseases, traits and characteristics of a person are affected by genes more
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the discovery DNA structures. In 1953, biologists James Watson and Francis Crick published a scientific article from which mankind first learned about the famous double helix, or spiral staircase. It is this structure of DNA that allows our cells to divide, store and transmit genetic information.
Fifty years later, in 2003, the main stage of the international project “Human Genome” was completed. Scientists were able to identify most of the genes, that is, in fact, to decipher the text written in the DNA of the “crown of evolution.” Now the most important task and the main challenge for researchers is to find out what certain genes are responsible for. Much is already known: in particular, modern genetic tests are based on these data. But there is more to be known.
Since the human genome remains unchanged from birth to death, the test only needs to be done once, geneticists explain. There are forecasts that in the future this practice will spread widely and may even become free for citizens, as medical examination is now. As more and more secrets of genetics are discovered, the interpretation of already performed tests will be supplemented, the researchers say. Therefore, “analysis” of DNA can be considered an investment in the future.
What is the most important, impressive and inspiring thing that scientists have already managed to find out? How do certain features of DNA affect our health, character, and longevity? They told about it experts of the medical genetic center Genotek in the scientific and educational project “Just such genetics”.
TO WHOM STRENGTH TRAINING, AND TO WHOM – WALKING
“Today it is known that genetics determines what risks a person has for diseases, injuries, predisposition to vitamin deficiency,” says the geneticist. Anastasia Kozina. – Also, due to genetic characteristics, poor tolerance to intense physical exertion is possible. Gentle, slow stretching exercises or walking may be better suited for such people.
But we hear from childhood that the main thing is training, regular sports! Like, the hard work of any weakling will turn into a superman with embossed biceps and cubes on his stomach. And if you methodically lean on endurance exercises, then any running marathon will be within your power.
“Most people are very surprised when they find out that in fact, the contribution of genetics to athletic ability and achievement is 60-70%,” says the therapist of the Medical Genetic Center Viktor Lishin. And he explains:
– The work of our body is built on the interaction between different cells. How intensively, how fully certain processes go, whether any receptors are blocked – all this, in fact, is determined by genetics. The shape of the body, the length of the arms and legs, the formation of muscle fibers also depend on genes. There are people who [от природы] more prone to short powerful power loads. There are those whose body is better designed for long distances. The degree of endurance, increased blood flow is again determined by the characteristics of DNA.
The Chinese have long been interested in studying the relationship between certain gene variants and athletic abilities, the expert notes. And in the US, genetic testing of children before choosing sports sections is becoming more and more popular.
TO THE POINT
How to choose healthy and safe exercise
The easiest and safest option is walking. Walk as fast as you are personally capable of without being out of breath.
If you want to seriously go in for sports – with strength exercises, cardio, intensive training, running, etc., you must first pass a medical examination, emphasized in an interview KP.RU Department of Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, Sechenov University, MD Evgeny Achkasov. Otherwise, there is a threat of severe malfunctions in the body, up to sudden cardiac death. The basic examination includes, in particular, ECG, ultrasound of the heart, cardiac stress tests (details – in the “Health” section on KP.RU)
IS INTELLIGENCE HEREDITED
“A large number of different genes and other factors are responsible for intellectual abilities,” Viktor Lishin explains. To date, there is no evidence of what features of DNA can be associated with a sharp mind, brilliant analytical skills, or creative talent. At the same time, there are studies that show that if both parents have an above-average IQ, then, as a rule, their child also has an increased IQ, the expert said. But this can largely be due not just to genes, but to the upbringing and environment of the growing heir.
“Now we know that certain character traits and certain inclinations are predetermined by genes,” Lishin continues. – For example, gene variants associated with openness to experience, risk-taking, and thrill-seeking have been identified. These traits, in turn, may increase cravings for alcohol abuse, nicotine abuse, and the likelihood of other addictions. Of course, the environment and lifestyle play an important role in the formation of harmful and dangerous habits. However, the influence of genetics should not be underestimated.
ANXIETY AND AGGRESSION RECORDED IN DNA?
Also, scientists were able to identify combinations of genes that are associated with attention deficit disorder, the doctor said.
– Curious tests were carried out. People were asked to describe or draw something that does not exist. For example, to suggest what a person who walks through the air can experience, says Victor Lishin. – The results surprised everyone. Volunteers who had professions associated with a high concentration of attention, scientific work, etc., did not show the best results. But people with attention deficit disorder turned out to be excellent creatives. Therefore, if I see such features in a child’s genetic test, then I explain to parents: perhaps it is worth developing creative abilities and thinking about an appropriate profession.
Also, researchers figured outthat there is an “aggression gene” or “warrior gene”. Certain mutations in it give rise to a violent reaction in response to stress and a tendency to violence. In general, human psychology is quite significantly dependent on heredity, geneticists note. In addition to the aggression gene, there are areas in DNA where mutations can increase anxiety, susceptibility to certain frightening factors. It has also been proven that there are a large number of genes, certain variants of which increase a person’s predisposition to depression.
STAY IN TOUCH
What Genes Do More Than Environment
In addition to athletic ability, there are other traits, as well as diseases, in the development of which genetics play a decisive role.
– Neurodegenerative diseases, that is, associated with the degradation of the brain. First of all – Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Several genes are known to have mutations that seriously increase the likelihood of developing such diseases.
– Some cardiovascular diseases.
Also, photoaging of the skin is largely due to genetic characteristics, Viktor Lishin said. This is one of the explanations why even with a super-healthy lifestyle, wrinkles appear before the age of 30, and someone looks great even at 45 without Botox.
But if cosmetology and plastic surgery are now working wonders, then what should those who have a genetic test show that Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia are “written in kind”?
Firstly, the likelihood of a predisposition to these diseases being realized is still not 100 percent, geneticists explain. Secondly, it is recommended to regularly undergo appropriate examinations in order to catch the disease as early as possible – then there is a higher chance of slowing it down, going into remission (for schizophrenia).
BY THE WAY
“I can’t drink coffee without sugar”
The researchers found that depending on the genetic characteristics in humans, the perception of bitter taste may be expressed more or less. In the second case, it is easier for a person to get used to and enjoy, for example, coffee without sugar. But for citizens who are more sensitive to bitterness, it is much more difficult to accustom themselves to such a drink.