All posts by yechangenetics

Can Exercise Beat Genetics In Determining Your Fitness?

With obesity now a prevalent problem, there is an increased focus on factors that contribute to overweight. Although many people may blame their genes for their increasing weight, a new study have shown that as women grow old they are more likely to overcome genetic susceptibility to obesity through keeping fit. The findings were published last week in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Previously, studies have suggested that influence of genetic on body max index increase from childhood to early adulthood. However, researchers had not studied the influence of obesity genes later in life and whether exercising can overcome their influence. In the article “Physical activity modifies genetic susceptibility to obesity in postmenopausal women,” findings were published from the linear regression study of over 8,200 women from the Women’s Health Initiative. The findings suggest that exercise reduce the effect of genetic susceptibility to obesity, and the impact is more pronounced in the oldest age group.

The results of the study support guidelines for maintaining and promoting healthy behaviors, especially in old people, to maximize longevity and quality of life. Regardless of genes, amount of abdominal fat, and age, regular exercise can improve life.



Who Gives You the Most Dominant Genes: Father or Mother?

Except for a few cases, it does not matte from which parent you got your genes. If a gene version is dominant, it will dominate; it does not matter whether a gene came from the mother or father.

Therefore, your chances of having a dominant trait does not depend on which parent it came from. If your father gave you the dominant brown eye version of an eye color gene, you will end up with brown eyes. Similarly, you have brown eyes if the mother passed the gene.

It is important to know that it is not a guarantee that if mother has brown eyes, then all her children will have brown eyes. They could get recessive blue or green eyes of the other parent. It is also possible for brown-eyed parents to have a blue-eyed child.

Let’s say that a child has a dad with blue eyes and a mother with brown eyes. Since brown eyes are dominant, the mother can have either one brown and one blue version of an eye color gene or she can have two browns. If the father has two brown versions and the mother has two blue ones, the child will still end up having brown eyes.

Colorblindness is one of traits where it matters which parent a gene copy originated. For most traits it doesn’t matter. What matters is just the combination of genes you get no matter the source.


Does Your Skin Tan? Your Genes Could be to Blame

Does your skin tan after you bask in the sun? If not, your genes might be to blame.

According to a new study published by Nature Communications, there are 10 new pigmentation genes that determine whether skin tan or just turn bright red after exposure to too much sunlight. These findings could help identify people likely to develop skin cancer, which is mostly caused by too much sun exposure.

In the U.S and Europe, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans are likely to develop cancer during their lifetime.

Scientists at King’s College London studied the genes of over 170,000 people of European descent. Each individual self-described whether they tan or burn.  Based on the responses of the participants, the researchers were able to double the number of genetic regions that determines whether skin bronzes in daylight. They suggest that changes in one genetic region already linked to melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, might increase the risk of skin cancer since it limits the ability of a person to tan.

Dark-skinned people produce more melanin, a pigment that protects skin from damaging sun rays, than people with fair skin.  When an individual tans, their body produces melanin, making their skin darker to shield them from harmful sun rays. These genes affect the ability of the bodies to produce more melanin in response to sun exposure.


The Link between Quick Thinking Skills and Genes

As individuals, we vary in the level of our thinking skills; but genetics differences could explain why some people have quick thinking skills. Researchers have been trying to identify common genetic variants associated with an individual’s ability to process new information.

In 2015, researchers from the University of Edinburgh said they had discovered a link between our genes and quick thinking skills. They found that genes linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism and schizophrenia have an impact on some cognitive functions. Led by the University of Edinburgh, the researchers analyzed data from 100,000 people held in the UK Biobank and found that some traits associated with thinking skills and diseases shared the same genetic influences.

According to the Disconnected Mind research project team, majority of genetic effects that act on cognitive ability in old people are those that act on cognitive ability in young people. This means that individuals with a higher cognitive ability level in childhood are more likely to have a higher level of ability throughout their lives.

People Inherit cognitive function from their parents, in the same way other characteristics are passed down.  Unlike eye color, researchers have discovered that cognitive is influenced by my many genes. Individually, each gene has an insignificant influence but together they account for over 50 percent of the variances in cognitive function between us.


Suicidal Behavior and Genetic Factors

Approximately one million people globally die by suicide each year. Suicide is complex and multifactorial behavioral phenotype. It is also familial, meaning that a family history of suicide increases the likelihood of completed suicide or suicide attempts.
Early researchers observed that suicide had likelihood of running in families and affecting successive generations. Many studies have established that biological relatives of those who have died by suicide are at higher risk of suicidal behavior themselves. The increased risk is fairly modest when compared to the effect of other factors, such as the existence of a psychiatric illness.
Despite clear evidence that suicidal behavior run in families, researchers have been struggling to find which genes are involved. In 2011, researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that a specific gene is associated with suicidal behavior. Previously, studies had implicated BDNF gene in suicidal behavior. BDNF plays a key role in the development of the nervous system.
After pooling results from several previous studies and adding their study data involving individuals with schizophrenia, the researchers confirmed that among individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis, people with the methionine variation of the gene had a higher likelihood to develop suicidal behavior compared to people with the valine variation.

Siblings with Same Parents but Different Ancestry

It seems like sisters and brothers should have the same ancestry. After all, they both got 50% of DNA from their mother and 50% from their father. However, because of how genes are passed on, it is possible for siblings to have the same parents but have very different ethnicity results.

DNA is not passed down from generation to generation in one block. Not every child acquires the same 50% of mother’s DNA and 50% of father’s DNA. This has consequences in terms of what DNA siblings share and how much DNA they share.

It’s important to know that most people have two copies of every chromosome—one copy comes from mother, and one copy comes from father. When an egg or sperm is produced, the body will randomly choose one chromosome from each pair to be inherited; some coming from the mother, and some from the father. The randomness of this process of selections means that even if a person had a thousand children, all of them would be unique.

What does it all mean? Siblings can be incredibly unique, and knowledge of the family tree might not tell the full story of their genetic ancestry. Determining ancestry of a person from their DNA can be done with three different categories of DNA testing: Y chromosome, Mitochondrial DNA and Autosomal DNA.



Empathy is Controlled by Genes

Many people blame parents for their children’s emotional defects. Researchers have revealed that, when it comes to empathy, parents are partly responsible. The researchers studied the empathy of 46,861 individuals and analyzed their DNA and found that genetics explains the differences in abilities to understand others’ emotions.

While previous researchers revealed that women are likely to be more empathetic than men, the scientists found there are no genetic factors to explain this. This suggests that gender differences are due to either the hormonal environment or social conditioning.

Researchers from the Institut Pasteur, University of Cambridge, Paris Diderot University, and genetics company 23andMe assessed empathy based on volunteers’ Empathy Quotient (EQ) scores.

In the study, published in Translational Psychiatry, the researchers carried out a statistical analysis referred to as genome-wide association studies to demonstrate that variations in genetics are associated with changes in empathy. They evaluated ten million genetic variants and found that tiny variants together contribute to around 10 percent of differences in empathy. The researchers also found that genetic variants linked to less empathy are also associated with a higher risk for autism

Ultimately, although genes have a significant effect, they do not completely regulate empathy. Cultural and environmental factors also have significant influence.


The ability to feel empathy—or not—is shaped by your genes