People tend to think of genetic mutations as only having negative results. However, genetic variations and mutations can have positive, neutral or negative effects. For example, a genetic variation explains why one person experiences little pain relief when taking ibuprofen but significant relief with acetaminophen. Research in genetics continues to uncover explanations for a broad range of characteristics like this. One company providing testing for various genetic variations is Pathway Genomics, founded by Jim Plante.
Vulnerability to Illness
One relatively recent study discovered a gene variant that accounted for a child’s unusual vulnerability to the common cold. This illness is caused by a variety of rhinoviruses, which is why people come down with one or two colds per year on average. This particular child not only developed colds more frequently than the norm but experienced more serious symptoms as well.
Genetic variations also explain why some individuals always have relatively mild cases of seasonal influenza when they are infected while others become seriously ill. This is aside from factors such as age and additional health issues. One particular gene variant does not protect these persons very well from this particular illness. Because of the mutation, the gene cannot effectively limit the spread of the virus throughout cells in the body.
Genetics accounts for a large number of quirky characteristics that would otherwise seem baffling. For instance, practically everyone knows a person who can drink caffeinated coffee right up until bedtime and then fall asleep without any problems. In contrast, another person might have trouble sleeping at night after drinking one cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning. Although both may feel energized by caffeine, the different effects are related to how the body processes this substance.
One variation related to the sensation of taste is relatively common, with about 25 percent of people having it. These individuals experience more intense flavors than the other 75 percent of the population. This can have both positive and negative effects. It leads to less tolerance for foods with a somewhat bitter flavor, which includes certain healthy green vegetables. It also can result in the dislike of high-fat foods, which might actually taste somewhat rancid to these persons.