I’m Genetics. Nice to Meet You!

153
genetics

Scientific progress is remarkable in many scientific fields, especially biology and medicine. Thanks to state-of-the-art technologies, scientists can broaden their knowledge and come to new discoveries.

Genetics – biological science that examines heredity and variability – does not rest on its laurels either. Knowledge of genetic predispositions entails the possibility of getting to know one’s own body better and the advantage of the newly acquired information. Today, it is possible to analyze DNA to gain knowledge of one’s genetic predispositions in various areas such as health risks, sports, metabolism, nutrition, drug tolerance, etc. The latest news is the DNA Beauty Test. Its name indicates what area of predisposition can be detected. Various types of genetic tests are currently a commonly available commodity. You can even test yourself in the comfort of your home. All you have to do is order the appropriate testing kit online, take a test and send it by courier to the company, which provides direct genetic DNA analysis from the customer’s saliva sample and subsequent interpretation of the data using their software built on scientific studies and databases.

geneticsPredisposition Doesn’t Mean You Have It

Based on the information you get from genetic testing, you can adjust your lifestyle to use that potential to your advantage and avoid risks. However, it should be emphasized that the test results do not replace health care and read “only” predispositions. So if you have a predisposition, for example, to a particular disease, it does not mean that you will inevitably suffer from it. The result is not a diagnosis. Detection of predisposition can be consulted with the GP in a timely manner and focus on the primary steps of prevention. Genetics is only one factor that affects the quality of our health and, thus, life as a whole. Nutrition, physical activity, and overall lifestyle play an essential role, as well as environmental influences. And knowing our genetic predispositions has undeniable advantages: it allows us to adjust and regulate our lifestyle to have the best quality of life and provide optimal body care.

The Human Genome

Technologies have made such significant advances over the last 20 years that they have also made it possible to expand knowledge of human genetic information. Scientists can read every letter of the genetic code and often can identify the written genetic information. If we call the genetic mutation a “typo,” then if it appears in the “manuals” written in genes, it can improve, but also completely destroy, what should have been the result of that manual. Genetic mutations appear in all of us. During the evolution of humanity, a massive number of them were created, and new ones are constantly emerging. And it is these mutations that scientists can now read and use relatively easily to analyze potential risks. Thus, the genome is complex genetic information stored in DNA (in the case of some viruses in RNA) in the cells of a particular organism. The genome includes all genes and noncoding sequences. The human genome has about 25,000 genes.

Prevention simply needs to be thought of promptly

Genetics and Aesthetic Medicine

As we have already mentioned, testing predispositions concerning health and appearance is hot news. You can find out if you are predestined for varicose veins, wrinkling, periodontitis, etc. The skin is the largest organ. It covers our whole body. We take some of the bare parts for “shopping” every day. Therefore, you will appreciate that chronic inflammatory skin diseases can also be studied, which also brings the possibility of effective prevention, especially in conditions that also affect appearance. “Genetics, for example, affects the emergence of psoriasis by up to 90%. Another study from 2014 claims that people who said they had mild or severe acne had a significantly higher genetic risk than those who said they did not have acne,” explains geneticist Michaela Šišková and adds what other predispositions related to appearance and health we can analyze thanks to the knowledge of DNA: “DNA Beauty test contains 20 predispositions in Appearance and health supplemented by selected predispositions from Vitamins and Minerals and Nutrition and Health categories. In total, there are 28 genetic predispositions focused on the quality of the skin, hair, and teeth or predispositions associated with the level of vitamins and minerals. Among the predispositions, you will find risks associated with the development of alopecia, acne, psoriasis as well as predisposition to periodontitis and varicose veins.”

The Sooner, The Better

The information that can be obtained thanks to this analysis is helpful in aesthetic medicine and treating individual diseases. “The advantage of genetic testing is that it can be done at any age, i.e., even in small babies, because the primary DNA sequence of a person does not change during life. So here’s the deal: the sooner we get the information, the sooner we can work with it. The results of genetic tests can help us to set the right skin care in time, to adopt an appropriate lifestyle that can better prevent the early emergence of unwanted changes on the skin,” explains the dermatovenerologist and head of NU’CLINIC MUDr. Jana Chudíková. A positive result of the genetic test, e.g., for atopic dermatitis or psoriasis, can help select sports and other hobbies for the child even when choosing a suitable profession where the skin will not be exposed to chronic irritation with chemicals, water, dust, sun, etc. “With an increased predisposition to alopecia or wrinkles, we are able to delay these changes by early application of various vitamins and to strengthen solutions as well as modern treatments. Knowing our genes will help us better understand our body and set individual steps in life so that we improve our quality of life and not the contrary,” adds the dermatovenerologist.

geneticsBeautiful Mane

Who wouldn’t want beautiful, thick, shiny hair? Definitely everyone. Some flaws can be masked with a suitable hairstyle or by using various styling products or hair accessories. However, it is worse if there is significant hair loss – alopecia. The most common forms of hair loss in both men and women include androgenetic alopecia – its formation is influenced by genetics up to 80%. A 2017 clinical study investigated the impact of genetic risk and found that 25% of people with the highest genetic risk have a more than 4 times higher risk of developing the disease than 25% of people with the lowest genetic risk. In another study from the same year, almost 60% of people with the highest genetic risk reported suffering from mild or severe hair loss.

MUDr. Jana Chudíková confirms that the most common form is androgenetic alopecia, which, in plain words, means male and female baldness. She explains that limited hair loss is professionally called alopecia areata and traction alopecia is the name for hair loss caused by long-term physical stress. Androgenetic alopecia is one of the most common forms of hair loss in both men and women. As the doctor says, male baldness is the most common manifestation of hair loss, affecting millions of men worldwide. They usually start around 20 in men and occur mostly in women after menopause. Proper care for the body from the outside and inside can prevent the outbreak of various diseases, which also applies to alopecia. Interestingly, patients with alopecia areata have lower levels of vitamin D, zinc, or folate, so the intake of these nutrients in the diet and their supplementation may, according to MUDr. Boris Bajer, PhD., to help with this health problem, as evidenced by several case studies. It adds that vitamin A is also considered a possible supportive therapy.

geneticsDiet and Exercise

The quality of the skin varies with age. The production of collagen and fibroblasts is reduced, the skin is thinner, the fat is reduced, and it is not as radiant and smooth as young people. The healing of wounds, minor injuries, and long-term exposure to the sun can also be aggravated by the appearance of wrinkles, dry skin, hyperpigmentation, and skin cancer, where the most dangerous and aggressive type is melanoma. “Signs of natural skin aging appear much earlier in women than in men. This is mainly attributable to a reduction in the protective effects of estrogens during menopause,” the dermatovenerologist explains. The quality of the skin is influenced by several factors, not only external but also internal, including genetics. Nutrition and physical activity also play an important role. “In 2012, a study published in the Dermatoendocrinology Journal mentions the close relationship between nutrition and skin quality or aging. It is partly a mirror of what we put into each other. We already know that many nutrients, especially antioxidants, also have a beneficial effect on skin cells. These include vitamins, carotenoids, tocopherols, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals, including macronutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids or high-quality protein sources,” says MUDr. Bajer.

changes in lifestyle and diet are important for varicose veins and their prevention

A Green Light for Prevention

More and more people are suffering from chronic venous diseases. The risk factor is not only increasing age but also, for example, repeated pregnancies, overweight, obesity, and also genetic predisposition. These tests can also help detect that. MUDr. Bajer advises that changes in lifestyle and diet are important for varicose veins and their prevention. We should include more physical activities in the daily schedule, especially recommended walking, moderate cycling, hiking, and swimming. For varicose veins – varices, you should avoid strength sports, lifting heavy loads, and standing or sitting for a long time.

We usually neglect our health until health problems appear. A well-known rule applies – prevention is easier and cheaper than treatment. Diet and physical activity are two fundamental pillars of good health and, thus, of preventing civilization diseases. In Slovakia, prevention has been neglected in many ways for a long time. This does not apply only to cardiovascular diseases or diabetes. MUDr Boris Bajer, PhD. also points this out and adds that prevention in urology in men is an example. “Resolving minimal problems or maintaining full health is much better and easier not only for the patient but also for healthcare professionals and the health system as a whole.”

geneticsPrevention simply needs to be thought of promptly and can also help obtain relevant information on genetic predispositions. In this way, the protection and maintenance of good health can be approached comprehensively. The proper procedure and compliance with the principles of a healthy lifestyle and appropriate regime measures can help to minimize health risks. And this is the way to ensure the best possible quality of life not only in youth and working age but also in the ‘autumn of life.

Text: Miriam Bartošová, photo: stock.adobe.com, Andrej Lavrinčík