How Easily Mutations Arise
Art & Research: Xiaoying Wu
Further Reading Literature: Xiaoying Wu
External causes of mutations
Mutation sounds like a scary word and we often hear that it occurs to people in rare cases. However, mutations can actually occur very easily over the course of life, depending on genetics or our life habits (Medline Plus). Mutations can potentially come from external sources such as sunlight, radiation, chemicals, tobacco products, processed foods, and overcooked foods (Frontiers for Young Minds). Keep in mind that not all mutations will harm you! It would require many mutations over lifetime to be harmful. Furthermore, most mutations do not negatively affect our health (Medline Plus).
Why do mutations happen?
Avoid prolonged sunlight exposure
Increased sunlight exposure can cause thymine dimers in the DNA, which can disrupt DNA replication and lead to mutation (Frontiers for Young Minds). If you must be exposed to sunlight, wear sunscreen daily in order to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays.
Avoid radiation and mutagenic chemicals
Avoid tobacco products
Avoid highly processed and overcooked foods
Highly processed foods have been studied to be linked to cancer (WedMD). As a result, we should avoid eating processed foods often and lean towards natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, etc. When meats are cooked at extremely high temperatures, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed (National Cancer Institute). HCAs and PAHs are known to be mutagens, hence we should be cautious in cooking foods at high heat, especially meats (National Cancer Institute).