Can we change our GENES based on the environment, in the mid-1980s John Cairns, a British-born geneticist at Harvard’s School of Public Health, carried out an experiment that would set off this discussion in a heavy spin.
The plan of the experiment was simple enough: to place some bacteria in a tight spot.
Cairns selected bacteria with a genetic defect rendering them unable to digest lactose, the sugar present in milk, and then introduced them into a batch of Petri dishes containing cultures whose only food source was lactose.
Without any digestible food, the bacteria faced death by slow starvation.
According to orthodox science and the neo-Darwinist view of natural selection, the bacteria would not be able to colonize; without a food source to drive metabolic processes, they could not carry out normal reproduction.
Nevertheless, in every Petri dish Cairns found a goodly number of thriving colonies. When Cairns tested for genetic changes in his colonies, he found that a single type of gene had changed: those preventing lactose metabolism. Identical changes in just those genes had occurred within every new colony in every Petri dish.
Cairns had confirmed that none of the original bacteria contained a lactose-digesting mutation prior to the experiment. Through some unknown mechanism the bacteria had activated eleventh-hour mutations in direct response to an extreme environmental crisis, and these mutations had saved their lives.
The bacteria had defied the central dogma: they had evolved purposefully, not randomly, in order to restore balance and harmony with their environment. Somehow the extreme environmental conditions had caused changes in genes, enabling the bacteria to digest the only food available to them.
All of the recent research on adaptive mutation and epigenetics casts a long shadow on the idea that illness is simply a case of having “good” or “bad” genes. Not only are the on–off switches for genetic expression controlled by environmental triggers, but diseases of many varieties –cancer, inherited defects, dementia, suicide, schizophrenia, depression and other mental illnesses –all appear to be set off by influences outside our bodies. Diet, a strong social network and community ties, purposeful work, mental stimulation, and an environment free of toxins and pollution may be far more important than the genes you are born with in determining the person you become and how healthy you are.
SOURCE LYNNE McTAGGERT, The Bond.
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