the age old debate of nature vs nurture

In our world of technology and innovation and equal opportunities for all, the debate on the conflicting effects of your genetic makeup and your living environment has become a heated topic of discussion. On one side of the debate, we have proponents who believe that genes rule supreme. The opposition puts their trust in the impact of one’s upbringing. True, one’s genes do determine one’s physical appearance and one’s average strength and height. These factors are important to consider, but aspects on one’s upbringing, like socioeconomic status, determine the extent to which said genes are expressed. For example, some factors of adult life are determined completely by living space and environment. Evidence provided in real life overwhelmingly proves that one’s upbringing has a significantly higher effect on a person compared with genes. This is because an environment determines the expression of genes, because the negative effects of genes can be mitigated, and because the ultimate effect of our lives is controlled by us.

Though genes determine the phenotype of an organism, the extent to which those genes are expressed is determinant on the environment. First of all, we can alter the effects of our genes by making subtle lifestyle choices. According to The National Library of Medicine, people can be genetically predisposed to diabetes if it runs in the family. But, prevention is possible if you make certain habitual choices, like losing weight, having a healthy diet, exercising, and refraining from smoking.(NLM) The individual choices we make determine our lives even though we might have genes that say otherwise. According to the American Cancer Association, certain types of cancer are caused by mutations and can be transferred from parent to child. Most types of cancer can be easily prevented if you exercise and are able to keep in shape, even if you have a genetic predisposition to cancer.(ACA) Both pieces of evidence prove that the detrimental effects of certain genes can be bypassed with habitual changes.

Economic status also plays a part in the determination of genes. People who are better off have better access to resources, making them healthier on average. Most members of the top 20% a study done in the UK by the Longevity Science panel shows that men in the top 20% of people live on average 5 years longer than men in the bottom 20%. The top and bottom 20% both have a diverse collection of genes, yet these genes do not affect the lifespan of the people in these sections. (LSP) The only other factor that can determine the average lifespan is the socioeconomic status of these people.

Though genes may determine the shape of your bodies and our outward strengths, deciding our ultimate fate is up to our own wills. An example of this is through the late physicist, Stephen Hawking. Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a neurological disease that results in no control of one’s motor functions. ALS is a disease that is transmitted genetically. Even though he had a life-threatening disease and was given a few years to live, Stephen hawking persevered and Made a better life for himself. This example shows how our genes do not control who we really are. Another example of Human willpower overpowering Genetics can be seen in the movie GATTACA. The plot follows the life of Vincent, whose only dream is to go to space. Unfortunately, he was born without any genetic altering, giving him “human” errors, such as myopia and heart disease. In the dystopian future, People with “defects” are considered low-class and are only eligible for low paying jobs. Vincent, even though he has severe heart problems, takes on the identity of a “valid” member of society and works very hard to be a splitting image of him. Vincent exercises, studies to maintain a high IQ, and even gets surgery to extend the length of his legs. Though he is vastly weaker than his counterparts, He finally gets to live the life of his dreams.(Niccol)

The effects of both gene mitigation and the power of human will are too great to be ignored. Though one’s genes may determine your physical attributes, One’s fate is solely up to his/her lifestyle and choices. When considering the effects of genes and growing environment, The environment in which you live and your will have a significantly higher impact on human life.

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