Yes, polluted air can change our DNA.
Air toxins damage us in many ways. Despite the well-known link between lung cancer and heart disease, scientists are now finding new points of contact with disorders such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Scientists are also trying to figure out how some people gained resistance.
Some researchers claim that the answers to these questions lie in our evolutionary past. Our ancestors also struggled with toxins from the air, said Benjamin Tramble of the University of Arizona and Caleb Finch of the University of Southern California.
They added that the ancestors had developed resistance to these pollutants and that today that adaptation allows us to protect, with a limited range, from air toxins. Some genetic adaptations, on the other hand, have made us more susceptible to disease.
About seven million years ago, droughts in Africa intensified. In the savannahs, there were periodic strong sandstorms from the Sahara.
“When dust rises, there are lung problems,” said Dr. Finch.
The lungs of the first humans were also irritated by pollen and particles of fecal matter produced by animals.
Dr. Finch and Dr. Trump have argued that scientists should consider the possibility that these circumstances may have changed our biology.
One understanding of genes is that they evolved significantly after our ancestors moved out of the woods.
One of them is MARCO, which serves as a scheme for the production of a molecular hook used by the cells of the immune system in our lungs. These molecules clear bacteria and particles.
Inhaling the dusty air led to the evolution of this gene in our ancestors who roamed the savannas. So says the hypothesis of Dr. Finch and Dr. Tumbl.
Later, our ancestors overcame the fire. The smoke has created new evolutionary pressure, according to Dr. Finch and Dr. Tumbl. For example, there is an evolution of liver enzymes so that we can get rid of toxins that travel from the lungs through the bloodstream.
Gary Perdu of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues found evidence that smoke stimulated the evolution of another gene – AHR. This gene produces protein. When toxins stick to the protein, the cells release enzymes that neutralize the poison. However, fragments left behind can cause tissue damage.
Dr. Perdu believes that humans have developed a weaker AHR response as a compromise to minimize the damage caused by toxins from the air, but with as few side effects as possible.
Researchers have found that the ApoE4 gene increases the risk of dementia when exposed to polluted air. This research, however, applies to industrialized countries.
ApoE4 had a different effect when researchers observed communities such as farmers in poor villages in Ghana or foresters in Bolivia.
Infectious diseases are a major cause of death in these communities. In such places, ApoE4 increases the chances of people experiencing maturity and having children.
The natural selection may have given ApoE4 an advantage over hundreds of thousands of years, but this gene and others like it may have had a detrimental side effect, invisible to this dirty, polluted, modern age.