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Deadly Genes

Updated on December 26, 2014

Drop Dead Symptoms and Genetic Diseases

How many times do we hear about someone dropping dead. An aunty of my best friend visited her daughter and as the door opened she dropped dead. Then years later my father's partner was drinking a cup of tea when she suddenly dropped dead. In another case a friend of my sister's was having a glass of beer when she suddenly expired. My cousin-in-law went to bed in perfect health and never woke up.

So is there an explanation? Is this something that comes out of the blue and can affect anyone of us?

A recent report in the English Sun newspaper (13th May 2010) states that experts in that country want such deaths classified as "Sudden Adult Death Syndrome or SADS as some 3,500 apparently healthy Britons drop dead each year "for no apparent reason", Some scientists are calling it the fault of the Death Gene. But deadly genes display themselves in almost every fatal disease whereby the program given to you at birth from your parents heralds your fate.

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An ultrasound of a human fetus during the 17th week.
An ultrasound of a human fetus during the 17th week.

How death genes work?

Sudden Death Syndrome

My first introduction to death genes came in a biology class where juvenile amaurotic idiocy was mentioned. It is a genetic disease passed on through recessive genes explained in detail here

It is defined as "a congenital progressive disorder of lipid metabolism having an onset at age 5 and characterized by blindness and dementia and early death". Children can be dead by the age of 15 and rarely live past 25. In today's medical world such a condition, if suspected, can be diagnosed in the womb and pregnancy terminated.

Certain ethnic groups have genetic problems, such as among Ashkenazi Jewish descendants who suffer from Canavan Disease. It affects the central nervous system and can be fatal in children with a few surviving to adulthood; It appears that the ascendants of this group had a very close tribal situation with intermarriages taking place between cousins. The recessive gene is carried on and appears in one in 40 members. There is no known cure.

Among this group also, along with French Canadians descendants, is Tay Sachs disease (also fatal in childhood). It manifests with a build up of substances in the brain and there is no known cure.

My specific interest, however, lay in Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anemia, which are discussed below.

Every Day in Every Town

There are babies born carrying genetic diseases like spina pifida, cerebral palsy, down's syndrome, and so on. But there are far worse cases that most will never hear about.

Genetic Research - How it is helping

What do You Know About Genetic Diseases? - Have you ever thought about your input

Should we marry partners without being aware of their recessive genes or our own?

Yes,

Yes,

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    • norma-holt 4 years ago

      @katespade: Well new research is discovering their role in so many things that maybe they are more responsibke than we think for things, even like the common cold. Hugs

    • katespade 4 years ago

      While genes are undeniably important factors in causing disease, their role has been vastly overemphasized. For most common diseases, such as cancer and atherosclerosis, genes are predispositions

    • Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      I would definitely still marry the person I love. The question for me, if I knew, would be whether to have children or not.

    • sheilamarie78 6 years ago

      I would rather live a short life than never to live at all, wouldn't you?

    • akumar46 lm 6 years ago

      Today it can be avoided by certain measures, which was not possible in the past .

    • akumar46 lm 6 years ago

      In today's medical is so advanced that these fatal diseases can be checked by certain measures,Which was not possible in the past.

    • Arquinn 6 years ago

      yes,

      everybody has his own anyway :D

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      Down the road we may not have that option but for now, yes.

    • Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      We might never get married if we had a gene check beforehand!

    • Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      My mother had early onset Alzheimers so I am aware of the possibility of that being a genetic disease. I think we have to seize happiness and hope that if our offspring have a genetic disease that a cure will be discovered before they are diagnosed.

    No

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      What comes out of a science lab
      What comes out of a science lab

      Thalassemia

      Its origin and effect

      This disease came to my attention through my interest in genetics in medical anthropology. The first briefing about it was of a small child, probably about six, who entered a back yard shed and was faced with a man who had hanged himself. The shock sent the boy into hemoglobin lock down and he dropped dread. His outward appearance showed every ounce of color drained from his body.

      My research was nothing too spectacular but needing to know more led me into many areas of migration patterns and discovering the origin and effect of this disease on communities.

      Two particular areas in the Mediterranean Sea, namely Sardinia and Cyprus, were breeding grounds for the recessive gene. Being islands it is understandable that marriages took place within a very confined group which expanded with succeeding generations while descendants carried the recessive gene or one in four died of it. Possibly one in four also carried no trace, according to Mendel's law.

      The type of thalassemia in these groups is known as beta-thalassemia (for simplicity sake) while alpha-thalassemia is known among Asian and African races and now in North America. Carriers are usually identified as thalassemia Minor and if they marry another thalassemia minor then one in four of the offspring will be thalassemia Major.

      The video below explains what that means. There are tests to see if you are a carrier of this gene and further tests, such as amniocentesis can be carried out on a fetus at 16 weeks to see if the gene is manifested. The procedure is risky and there is a slight chance it may result in a miscarriage.

      Thalassemia - Spreading Awareness

      How Important is Your Babies Future? - Are you prepared to eliminate the risks?

      People in Australia usually get blood tests before marriage to identify blood related problems that might affect a child. So I think genetic testing is just around the corner if such hideous diseases as Thalassemia and other things can be avoided.

      Would you ask your potential partner to be tested for genetic risk genes, such as thalassemia?

      Yes

      Yes

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        No

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          • Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

            Probably not, but I can certainly understand why some would.

          • akumar46 lm 6 years ago

            Now it will be of no meaning for us.

          • myneverboredhands 6 years ago

            I would not, but I understand those who would.

          • anonymous 6 years ago

            Until now I wouldn't ever have thought about it.

          • Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

            no I wouldn't but would respect the decision of those that feel differently

          Amniocentesis Test - Its not all that bad

          Normal Blood Cells
          Normal Blood Cells

          Sickle Cell Anaemia

          What is it?

          Closely related to and often identified with other forms of thalassemia this disease is painful and can cause stress over a lifetime. The video below explains the condition and its effect on the body. The picture on the right shows normal red blood cells concave in shape

          Generally called beta-globan chain abnormality and also homozygous beta-thalassemia the effect of this disease on the kidneys is possibly the biggest problem. "Speculation exists as to the possible mechanisms responsible for the decline in renal hemodynamics with age, sometimes ending in renal failure with shrunken end-stage kidneys." (cited L.W. Statius van Eps http://eglobalmed.com/core/FreeBooks/www.kidneyatl...

          The complexity of the effect of the disease is too involved to repeat in this lens and would only confuse the reader.

          Symptoms include shortness of breath, lethargy, rapid heart rate, delayed growth at puberty. ulceration of the lower limbs (adolescents and adults), severe abdominal pains, joint pains, blood in urine, thirst, vomiting, fever, abnormal penis pain, chest pain, decreased fertility, and a family history of the disease. It is most prominent among African Americans of whom one in ten are carriers and some 1 in 400 have it. But it is also in many other nationalities.

          Managing ones anxiety and diet may help control the symptoms.

          Sickle Cell Disease

          The Double Helix
          The Double Helix

          How Safe Are Our Genes?

          If they can kill

          Genetic science is only 20 to 30 years old and there is a lot that we don't know. It took 20 years after the discovery of the double helix for it to have any application in medicine. Yet, we see how genetic engineering is now going ahead in leaps and bounds to create new life forms that have no relationship to any other living thing.

          This worries me, in particular, because of my research that shows life evolved along with everything around it. For instance the food we eat has developed as we did, the same climate, the same earth patterns, environmental conditions and time. Now, suddenly, cells are being altered into new entities foreign to all these things.

          Ethically we have to look at the process called 'transgene' which means part of one genome is isolated and implanted in that of another. The effects are completely unknown both short and long term. In one example, golden rice, it has extra vitamin A, supposedly to overcome the low amounts of this vitamin in some Asian populations. But these people evolved with that level of it so what will happen long term if they eat this rice variant? Also what about the bit that was removed. We have seen from the videos above what happens when a small amount of a chromosome is distorted and how it affects the body.

          If we are going to allow manipulation of our food then surely we must know what are the consequences.

          In a recent television documentary, Quantum, that airs on the ABC in Australia it was revealed how eucalyptus trees with modified genes (enabling faster growth) exude extra large amounts of poison into the environment. This poision is a feature of the tree but not in these new quanitites. The result is a devastating effect on river organisms that has resulted in abnormal cancer outbreaks among the human population drinking the water downstream. Animals who use the river for drinking water include the highly endangered Tasmanian devil which is dying in agony from unexplainable cancer growths around its mouth that prevent it from eating.

          We don't know the health risks and long term consequences of such interference in nature so what are we allowing it to happen? Maybe all our food is being poisoned by these so-called scientific breakthroughs just as our planet is being pouisoned by pollution from motorised machinery.

          Do You Believe that Genetic Manipulation is a Good thing? - Or should we ban it?

          Are you prepared to eat genetically modified foods?

          Yes

          Yes

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            • myneverboredhands 6 years ago

              First time I've heard about such food after we've immigrated to USA... before that my family consumed organic foods only from land my parents inherited from their parents. Never any kind of chemicals were used by them on this piece of land, or they used to feed the animals.

            No

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              • sheilamarie78 6 years ago

                We cannot afford to play these games because in some cases we cannot turn back when they fail. What is infuriating is that those who control the food source make these decisions for everyone. I think we all need to take more responsibility for preserving our food sources.

              • akumar46 lm 6 years ago

                Nature has the best foods for us to eat.

              • Carmel Aaron 6 years ago

                No, I feel it is endangering us all. Genetically Modified food is extremely dangerous.

              • Arquinn 6 years ago

                I don't think they are as healthy as naturally grown food

              • Chazz 6 years ago from New York

                No way.

              • anonymous 6 years ago

                I'd prefer not to, but we have been for years.

              • Elizabeth Sheppard 7 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

                No

              A Scientific Evolution

              Genes have taken over as the new thing in vogue to experiment with and alter, just as man has altered everything else of nature. So what is waiting for us down the track?

              Mad Science or a Medical Breakthrough - Where are we going?

              Still images from Dreamstime - click here

              Read my articles on this and other subjects on Ezine Articles

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              © 2010 norma-holt

              Please Leave Your Thoughts Behind

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                • suepogson profile image

                  suepogson 4 years ago

                  This is an important and useful article - very clearly written - thank you.

                • Sylvestermouse profile image

                  Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

                  Very thought provoking article. Blessed!

                • Lady Lorelei profile image

                  Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

                  Your articles are always so informative and inciteful that I wish that I could bump up half of them from their current rankings. Your death gene article is once again one to make one think on life, and living, and all the little details which we may be completely unaware of.

                • sheilamarie78 profile image

                  sheilamarie78 6 years ago

                  Some of these genetic tests, etc., assume that the pregnant mother will abort the baby if something is found to be wrong. That is forgetting that parents love their children, even those who are not "perfect" in every way. Wait a minute -- I don't think I'm "perfect" either.

                  Oops!

                  You've done a great job with this lens! Thanks for sharing all your expertise.

                • akumar46 lm profile image

                  akumar46 lm 6 years ago

                  These genetic disorders can be checked and future ailments can be eliminated through medical science.

                • Carmel Aaron profile image

                  Carmel Aaron 6 years ago

                  This is a fantastic lens. I have always been interested in this subject, and I have been genetically tested for some things. It would be a long drawn our and very expensive procedure to have a multitude of tests, and not sure if they have that capability yet in most labs. I have worked nutritionally with the expression of some of my genes. Thank you so much.

                  Thumbs up and a little Angel Dust for you and this fantastic material....

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                  Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

                  This article definitely gives a person something to think about....yikes.

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                  anonymous 6 years ago

                  Interesting lens.

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                  Arquinn 6 years ago

                  Very interesting! :)

                • Lady Lorelei profile image

                  Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

                  Yikes the unknown can indeed be scary. Very well researched and displayed article.

                • myneverboredhands profile image

                  myneverboredhands 6 years ago

                  interesting lens, thanks for sharing information from your researches. Congrats on receiving a Purple Star.

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                  Chazz 6 years ago from New York

                  A very provocative and well done lens. A lot to think about. Thank you for including our tribute to Dawn among your worthwhile lenses.

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                  SAMEPRINCESS10 6 years ago

                  Hi, This is very interesting, and a lot of reading. I believe for all your studying on this lense you do deservr e the purple star. congrats!

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                  anonymous 6 years ago

                  A very thought provoking lens, very excellently done and congratulations on receiving a Purple Star!

                • profile image

                  anonymous 6 years ago

                  A very thought provoking lens, very excellently done and congratulations on receiving a Purple Star!

                • rwoman profile image

                  rwoman 6 years ago

                  Wow! Interesting and important message

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                  anonymous 6 years ago

                  Deadly Genes is my new knowledge. This lense is so great. Thank you so much for sharing :)

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                  anonymous 6 years ago

                  Great lens. Congrats on your purple star.

                • TreasuresBrenda profile image

                  Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

                  What an amazing lens! I'll admit I did not know very much about the subject and now I know more.

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                  Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

                  Wow, this is a lot of information to absorb this early in the morning. I am sure I will be back to re-read for a greater understanding. Thank you for this great lens on Deadly Genes. I do feel that we could drive ourselves crazy worrying about what could happen. This info surely makes one think. I am nominating this lens for the Summer Sunshine Award Contest using the new nomination form http://bit.ly/beoe5h and featuring this lens with your charity, March of Dimes, on Squidoo's Summer Sunshine Award Nominees, my charity lens.

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                  Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

                  Congratulations on your Purple Star!