What comes in your mind when you think of DNA mutation? I bet it isn’t anything blissful. You might picture the deformed bodies from those nuclear disasters in the past, or perhaps, take a step ahead and think of the Spiderman or the incredible Hulk! It is true that DNA mutations are undesirable. However, DNA mutation can be really subtle. It is much more common than you think and a simple DNA testing can help you understand it better. There are DNA mutations happening right now, in everyone, but at the same time, being actively repaired. Let me encapsulate:

1. Spontaneous DNA mutations:

parakeet-corrugated

When a DNA is right out of the manufacturing line, it has several errors. These errors might arise due to some reactive chemicals already present inside the cells, such as Hydrogen Peroxide. Thanks to the enzyme assembly in place, they check the DNA completely before dispatching, and repair the mismatched base-pairs, and out we get an accurate copy of DNA- fresh and new.

2. Due to chemicals:

Certain chemicals, if permeates the body, can potentially interfere with DNA replication, thereby causing more errors that can be handled by our repair centers. This can cause erroneous or dysfunctional genes, or in the extreme case, cancer. These chemicals are called ‘carcinogens’. Such chemicals include PVC, tobacco, benzene, and metals such as Arsenic, Cadmium, etc. Another famous example is Mustard-gas, used during World War.

3. Due to biological agents:

There are certain bacteria and viruses that directly contribute to the DNA mutation. Newer biological agents have emerged with time, due to the ever-developing resistance of bacteria and viruses towards antibiotics. Needless to say, this is potentially infectious as well.

4. Due to radiation:

Most well-known mutagen (mutation causing agent), radiation is almost pure energy. Exposure to certain high-energy radiations can cause severe mutations in the DNA, much more than what can be repaired. The most common is the UV-radiation present in sunlight. X-Rays also come under high-energy radiation. This is why repeated X-Rays of the body are not advisable. Nuclear radiation is another thing one ought to stay away from. We have seen far too much from Chernobyl, Hiroshima-Nagasaki, and Three-mile. On the bright side, mobile radiation is not one of them, so call away!

5. Smoking

You didn’t expect that here, did you? A study discovered that people who smoke receive more radiation than an astronaut- who lives outside the earth’s protective blanket of atmosphere. Even more than the workers that cleaned up the Fukushima site. It is due to tobacco, which contains traces of polonium- which is classified as highly radioactive. The tar deposited in the lungs continuously pumps high-energy radiation into the body. Thus, an average smoker is at a very high risk of cancer as compared to a non-smoker.

Just by simple changes in your lifestyle, you can put yourself at lower risk, such as eating antioxidants which help remove potentially harmful chemicals. Vitamin A, C, E in carrots, tomatoes, eggplants, green-tea, etc. And wear that sunscreen and put on some nice shades while you’re out next time.