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All about genes
We all inherit a set of genes from each parent. These genes are responsible for traits such as how tall you are, the shape of your body and the colour of your hair, eyes and skin. People from the same family often share many other types of characteristics.
What are genes?
Our bodies are made up of cells. In each and every cell, genes guide how the cell develops and functions. Every gene has a specific role. Genes are like a huge instruction manual for our bodies, determining what we look like and how our bodies will grow and function.
What are gene mutations?
A gene mutation happens when there is a change or mistake in a gene.
Gene mutations can happen in 2 ways:
- They can be inherited from a parent.
- They can be the result of changes that happen during a person's lifetime.
Are gene mutations always harmful?
A gene mutation can be harmful, harmless or even helpful.
For most mutations, a cell can usually repair any damage before it becomes a problem. But if it can't repair the damage, certain mutations can lead to a cell becoming a cancer cell. Cancer cells grow and divide in an uncontrolled way.
Inheriting a harmful gene mutation may increase your risk for cancer. It does not mean you will definitely develop cancer.