A new study shows that people of European decent are evolving fast, but not for the better.
From NBC News:
The study finds that in the past 5,000 years, European-Americans have developed a huge batch of potentially harmful genetic mutations – many more than African-Americans.
Akey and colleagues at genetics institutions across the country examined the gene sequences of more than 6,500 people – more than 4,200 European-Americans and 2,200 African-Americans.
They found “an enormous excess of rare variants” in the European-Americans. And 73 percent of these mutations only appeared in the human genome in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years. Most were mutations that are known to weaken proteins, Akey said, and most of these harmful mutations were also in the people of European descent.
But many are in known disease-causing genes, such as the LAMC1 gene associated with premature ovarian failure, LRP1, which is linked with both Alzheimer’s disease and obesity and the CPE gene linked to hardening of the arteries.
Genetic mutations usually occur by accident – they are just mistakes that get made when DNA gets copied. They become important to evolution when they affect a person’s ability to survive and have children.
There may even be more evolution in the future, Akey predicted. One example – phenylketonuria or PKU. It’s caused by a mutation in a gene that breaks down an amino acid called phenylalanine. People with PKU mutations must eat a strict, low-protein diet or they can develop seizures and mental retardation.
key said because these kids can now grow up and lead normal lives, they will likely start having children and the gene may become more common in the population.
Life comes at you fast!