How do genetic defects arise?

The cause of our innate health weaknesses

Experts estimate that each person carries about 2,000 genetic defects. A brief introduction to the world of genes explains in more detail how genes control our bodies and why genetic defects can cause disease.

A variety of influences can cause changes in our genes (also called mutations), which in rare cases can have positive effects, but most often disrupt the function of the gene and negatively affect our health.

The most well-known cause of genetic defects in the media and Hollywood is radioactivity, whereby radioactive rays penetrate cells and damage our genetic code and thus, by chance, our genes.

In feature films, these gene alterations or mutations often lead to the creation of monsters like Godzilla or supernatural powers like in X-Men, but in reality, they are more likely to create deadly diseases like cancer or birth defects in newborns.

Another cause of mutations and gene defects are certain substances such as carbon, which is found on burnt food. It also invades cells and damages our genes, which can lead to colon and some other cancers.

The sun’s UV radiation also damages our genes and lead to diseases such as skin cancer.

Where do we get our genetic defects?

The above influences can alter individual genes and disrupt their function throughout our lives, but we inherit the majority of our gene variations from our parents. Each embryo receives half of the father’s genes and half of the mother’s genes when the egg is fertilized, which together create a new human being with some of the characteristics of each parent. Unfortunately, genetic defects are also passed on with these genes, and so it happens that, for example, a polymorphism that causes heart attacks is passed from father to son and on to grandson, leading to the disease in each generation. However, whether the genetic defect is passed on is determined by chance and so some of the grandchildren may carry the genetic defect and others may not.

In this way, each person is unique and due to the accumulation and combination of the different genetic variations, each person has different inherited health weaknesses. With the latest technology, it is now finally possible to examine one’s own genes and read from them which very personal health risks exist. With this knowledge, preventive measures can then be taken and diseases prevented in many cases. This is the next step in preventive medicine and a new generation of health care.

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