Are You a Product of Genetics or Your Environment?

By Chris Centeno, MD /

Receive a Regenexx® Patient Info Packet by email and learn why it's a superior regenerative solution.

epigenetics

I have fraternal twins, so I got to watch firsthand how genetics can shape a kid. My boy is night-and-day different from his sister and he always has been, despite our best efforts to raise them the same. However, others would argue that environment often trumps genetics. So which is it?

Genetics vs. Environment

Genetics is a complex field of study that investigates life at the level of cellular DNA, or our genes. We inherit our unique genetic makeup from our parents, and as such, we have two copies of each gene, one from our mom and one from our dad. Our genes determine the basic things, like eye and skin color, the shape of our ears, whether we have curly or straight hair, and so on, but they can also carry inheritable codes for diseases, such as autism, dementia, and certain cancers. Research has also shown that things such as IQ and happiness can be inherited through our genes. So we come preloaded, so to speak, with a blueprint for life.

Environment, on the other hand, is simply the ability of the world around us to alter who we are. For example, you may not be genetically prone to obesity; however, if you live on a diet of fast food and doughnuts, the ensuing obesity is certainly a product of your environment. You may not carry a gene for lung cancer, but if you smoke, you have a very high risk for lung cancer due to the environmental exposure to the carcinogens in cigarette smoke.

So while it seems obvious that we can be a product of either genetics or our environment, a new question researchers set out to answer is whether the environment can alter our genetic structure, making us a true product of both. In other words, does environmental influence change our genetic blueprint? This is such a hot topic, by the way, there’s a whole field of study dedicated to it called epigenetics, meaning how our genes may be altered by the environment. Let’s take a look at the study.

Epigenetics: Environmental Influence Can Change Gene Expression

The new study looked at how cells in the cerebral cortex of mice respond to a specific sensation (in this case light). After subjecting the mice to total darkness, the mice were then exposed to light while researchers analyzed thousands of cells and gene types. Of over 114,000 cells examined, just a single burst of the light dramatically altered expression in over 600 genes, suggesting we don’t just learn from environmental influence but our genes can actually be altered by the outside world.

The researchers concluded that humans can’t be so neatly narrowed down to being a product of either genetics or environment; based on how genes respond to environmental stimuli, the study suggests we are actually a product of both.

More Interesting Findings on Genetics and Our Environment

Studies on how our environment affects our genes (epigenetics) have also made some interesting findings in recent years. For example, a recent study found that aging can be genetically altered by exercise. Joint replacements fall under the category of environmental influence because they are devices introduced into the body that aren’t supposed to be there. A couple of studies have found that the wear particles from these joint replacements can alter genes by causing genetic instabilities and abnormalities. This new study of how genes can be altered by the environment gets really freaky when you consider that these changes can be passed down to your kids!

How does the environment impact your stem cells? A recent study demonstrated that alcohol can damage the DNA in stem cells. This is critical as stem cell genetic damage has been associated with being sicker and an early death.

The upshot? Your genes can be altered by your environment. This includes your stem cells! Hence, get loads of exercise, lift heavy weights, drink tea, avoid drinking a lot of alcohol, and avoid stuff that will mess up your genes!

Category: Latest News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Are You a Product of Genetics or Your Environment?

  1. Richard L Behr

    Chris:
    “lift” heavy weights
    auto- correct doesn’t always work
    I love your blogs. I am a patient of Dr Schultz
    He recently performed a miracle on my neck and shoulder
    I need another miracle for my hip which is now scheduled for the end of May- wish me luck
    Rich

    1. Regenexx Team

      Rich,
      Thanks for the extra set of eyes! Will correct. Wonderful to hear you’re doing so well. Wishing you luck!

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.