As beautifully as Lara Adler said: “Our genetics load the gun but our environment pulls the trigger”
WE are born with a fixed set of DNA, known as our GENOME. Yes, we can’t change our DNA but we don’t need to. Unlike the underlying genome, which remains largely constant within an individual, the EPIGENOME can be dynamically altered by environmental conditions. So, epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression – making our genes active or inactive.
Just because you have a gene, does not mean that gene is being expressed. Most importantly, how you live, what you eat, your life experiences, your choices and exposures in life can influence whether our genes get switched ON or OFF.
Makes sense right?
So today, I want to break down some concepts surrounding the disease, cancer.
Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells which all have an important role in maintaining our ability to function optimally. Healthy cells know when to reproduce, how to become specialized cells, where they should be and why, and also when to self-destruct (apoptosis) as they become damaged or too old.
Cancer cells are very different, these cells behave in a greedy and erratic manner. The simplest way to describe cancer is ‘abhorrent cell growth’. It is the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells; in other words, they reproduce like crazy. These cells have lost the ability to self-destruct due to their own mutations, convenient right? Cancer cells are survival experts, they survive and thrive without oxygen, within a toxic and acidic environment and often partner up with other pathogens.
But what causes a mutated cell?