Somatic mutation refers to any alteration or mutation occurring in the human body cell other than the germ cell, gametocyte or gamete. It mainly occurs in multi-cellular organisms and is caused mainly by environmental factors, including exposure to certain chemicals and ultraviolet radiation. Its harmful effect comes primarily in three dimensions, as discussed below.
1. Promotes cancer growth
The role of somatic mutations in cancer development has long been established by various oncological research. It is a medical fact that it causes abnormal implosive cell growth, which in addition to certain environmental factors causes cancer. Somatic mutation is also known to play a crucial role in transforming normal body cells into cancer cells. Research has continually linked lung, gastric, ovarian, colorectal and renal cancers to somatic mutations.
2. Neurological diseases
While the notoriety of somatic mutation in cancer development has long been established, new studies are now establishing links between this cell mutation and neurological diseases such as autism spectrum and epilepsy. This mutation during a child’s prenatal brain development, even at low levels, may cause the said epilepsy and autism spectrum.
3. Intellectual disability
Similar to its effect on a child’s neurological development leading to autism and epilepsy, somatic mutations occurring pre-birth may cause intellectual disability and disorder. Early somatic mutation detection can help reverse this occurrence from affecting an unborn child.
Prevention is better than cure. There are various preventive measures to nip somatic mutation in the bud. These measures mostly revolve around a commitment to healthy living and reduced exposure to mutation-inducing chemicals and radiation. Experts generally recommend the consumption of fruits and vegetables and a drastic reduction of tobacco intake through the smoking of cigarettes. The most severe effect of somatic mutation is linked to unhealthy lifestyles and habits. If your work exposes you to harmful radiation and chemicals, insisting on preventive gear and proper usage is essential.