7 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Inherit Genetically

Knowing and understanding your family history is essential for fostering strong personal health. You’re probably used to your doctor asking you health-related family history questions about cancer, heart health, etc., but did you know that there are a variety of other things you can inherit from your parents as well? Here is a look at some unexpected things you may be able to inherit genetically—along with the science behind it.

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PTSD

It may sound nonsensical, but there have actually been cases of descendents of Holocaust survivors being checked into clinics showing signs of PTSD, despite not having had any traumatic experiences in their lives. The phenomenon is known as inherited trauma. While inherited trauma does not seem to be common, studies on it have shown that inherited trauma is not impossible, at least. Researchers suppose that this is because stress can transform you on a biological level, affecting how DNA is expressed.

Addiction risk


It’s true that some people are more predisposed to developing a substance addiction than others. In fact, according to this article, having a parent who has struggled with addiction can make you as much as eight times more likely to develop addiction yourself. Other studies have found that about 50 percent of addiction risk is genetics, while the other 50 percent is personal behavior. Having a higher risk for developing a drug or alcohol addiction doesn’t mean, of course, that you’re bound to face substance dependency in life, but knowing that you are at this higher risk can empower you to take the step you need to reduce your chances of developing addiction. If you feel like you have an addiction problem, contact a Fort Lauderdale treatment center to get the help you or someone you know might need.

Wanderlust

Believe it or not, there is actually a gene that is associated with restlessness and curiosity. Its name: DRD4-7R, also known as the “wanderlust gene.” As it turns out, people who have this gene exhibit higher levels of restlessness and curiosity, enjoy seeing new places, and don’t like being stationary. They also tend to be more willing to take risks and explore new relationships, foods, and drugs. According to researchers, this gene isn’t particularly common, but an estimated 20 percent of people in the world do have it.

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Violence

According to a Finnish study that analyzed the genes of about 900 criminals, there are two genes that are associated with making people violent. If you possess these genes, you could be 13 times more likely to have a background of violence. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely commit a violent crime in your life if you have these two genes, but it does mean that you are more likely than the general population to do so.

Phobias

Common sense will tell you that phobias develop through particularly traumatic life experiences, but according to a study conducted at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, some phobias may be inherited as well. For the study, researchers trained mice to fear the scent of cherry blossoms using electric shocks and then allowed them to breed. Interestingly enough, the offspring of the mice also feared the scent of cherry blossoms, despite never having encountered the scent of cherry blossoms before. So as it turns out, memories and experiences can be passed down to later generations through genetic “switches.”

Talents

The same science that is attached to passing down phobias to later generations may apply to skills and talents as well. Research on how talents may be inherited genetically often starts with savants—creative individuals who are born especially adept at music, art, or mathematics. In savants, it’s as if the music, art, or mathematical chip comes “factory installed.” Research is still ongoing, but so far, researchers believe that some genetic transmission of sophisticated knowledge well beyond instincts is definitely possible.

Laziness

Laziness may seem like a learned characteristic, but studies are beginning to show, interestingly enough, that laziness could actually have something to do with genetics as well. According to a study conducted at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, for example, when active mice were separated from “lazier” mice, and each group of mice was left to breed on its own, the offspring of each group seemed to exhibit similar activity levels to their parents. Researchers concluded that while genetics couldn’t completely account for activity levels in the mice, it did account for about 50% of differences in activity. In short, people who are more active may very well have more activity-promoting genes than those who don’t.

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