I didn’t think it was possible for me to love Neil deGrasse Tyson more than I already do, but then the “Cosmos”‘ host went dropped some real talk in a discussion about whether genetics — specifically difference between the sexes — is to blame for there being so few women in STEM fields. “I’ve never been female. But I have been black my whole life,” he begins, before drawing parallels between the ways societal forces have long created barriers based on race and gender that have prevented equal opportunity. This is just perfect. [The Mary Sue]
In the wake of Angelina Jolie’s stunning double mastectomy news, we wanted to speak with a genetic counselor to find out a little bit more about how Angelina Jolie — and so many other women — came to the decision to have a preventative double mastectomy done. Jolie came to the decision after finding out that she had a mutation in her BRCA1 gene, which greatly increases the likelihood of breast cancer in women. The two complicit genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2 were first discovered by researchers in the early 90s, who identified them as the root cause of a genetic predisposition to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. According to researchers, hereditary cancer accounts for between 3 and 5 percent of all cases of breast and ovarian cancers, which sounds like a small number, but actually amounts to tens of thousands of cases a year.
To find out more about these genes, the tests that detect them, and the difficult decision Angelina Jolie and so many other women make to prevent breast cancer, we spoke with Gina Nuccio, a genetic counselor at Baptist Memorial Health Care, a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Keep reading »
Whenever you think about the travails of dating and mating, consider this guy, and be glad this hasn’t happened to you. An anonymous man wrote into Slate’s advice column, Dear Prudence, asking what to do about a rather unbelievable series of genetic events.
Read on for the full query. Keep reading »
We choose our friends based on many factors — common tastes, sense of humor, interests, and, according to a new study, gene patterns. Researchers discovered that friendship circles share more than the same taste in music and movies, they share similar DNA. Friend pairs tended to have closely matched levels of the gene that controls dopamine and seratonin in the brain, while having opposite levels of a gene linked to immunity. What does this mean? In short, that we instinctually befriend people with similar dispositions and dissimilar immune systems, meaning they’ll want to go to the same concert as us AND they probably won’t catch our flu when we get sick. If that’s not the definition of a friend, I don’t know what is. In the future, I will be administering DNA tests to prospective friends. [Live Science] Keep reading »
No need to wonder any longer where you got your predilection for promiscuity. Turns out, it’s genetic (one or both of your parents is probably a slut too). According to a new study, there is a gene that predicts a tendency toward infidelity and one-night stands. Those who have “the slut gene,” as I am lovingly referring to it, were found to be twice as likely to engage in thrill-seeking sexual behaviors as those without it. Why? Two words. Dopamine rush. That stuff is intense. But this study does not give you carte blanche to cheat on your mate. It predicts a a TENDENCY toward promiscuity. It’s up to you to keep your pants on. [Live Science] Keep reading »
New study alert! Apparently, your extended social group influences your alcohol consumption just as much as genetics and family history. I don’t know why they keep doing studies that could easily be written after spending one weekend on a college campus, but I guess since this study borrowed information from the Framingham Heart Study, they didn’t waste anyone’s time. The Heart study followed 12,000 people for 30 years and found that if your friends drink, you are 50 percent more likely to drink yourself. Even if a friend of a friend abuses alcohol, you’re 36 percent more likely to abuse it, too. [Asylum] Keep reading »