Cleanliness is good medicine

Published 1:22 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By Staff
It's easy to see that we inherited our looks from our parents.  We might have Mom's eyebrows and Dad's hair, or Mom's blue eyes and Dad's big feet.  Now medical researchers are telling us that it goes a lot deeper than that. Characteristics that we once attributed to our “upbringing” are now being attributed to the genes which we received from our parents.
What are genes? Genes are snippets of DNA, attached to the chromosomes that reside in every living cell of our body. Picture an old-fashioned clothes line with socks hanging out to dry. The chromosome is the line, and the genes are the socks. The DNA molecule looks like a long spiral stair-case.
From these genes come the protein molecules that control all of the complicated processes of life.  They do this by lining up small molecules called amino acids in just the right order. This is necessary because the end product must assume an exact shape to do the job - like a key that opens a lock.  If just one small molecule in the chain is incorrect, the result can be catastrophic. One such case is Sickle Cell Anemia, which affects many African Americans. One small mistake changes the entire shape of the protein, and the key no longer fits like it should.
So it is clear that a single gene can cause a mistake. In the case of Sickle Cell disease, the mistake affects the protein which is necessary for red blood cells to maintain their shape during circulation. Likewise, we are now told of genes which control our appetite (or lack there of), our weight, our mood, our emotions and on and on.
Are we therefore to conclude that the free will which be believed was a God-given characteristic is a hoax? Are we a “victim” of the way genes work and our proteins bend? Does a “twist here” or a “bend there” in our genetic makeup determine our fate? Could a chemical change be all that separates a heavy equipment operator from a concert pianist