Gluten-free, lactose-free, low cholesterol, high fibre. Nowadays it seems as though every retailer is selling a solution to our abundance of dietary challenges. But why is this generation suddenly plagued with so many problems? Is it heightened awareness, a boom in fad-dieting and a few million hypochondriacs? Or is it something deeper? Dr. Moalem believes it's not only deeper, it's microscopic.
We've all heard the nature versus nurture debate and we know that our genes are responsible for physical appearance and general health. But what if we learned that the bullying our parents endured as children left an indelible mark on our genomes? Would we believe that a seemingly insignificant change to our genetic code could leave us impervious to pain or lethally sensitive to morphine? And why doesn't the latest Hollywood diet work for everyone? Inheritance uses fascinating examples to emphasize the delicacy of our genomes and the advantages and disadvantages that arise from changes in genetic makeup and expression.
The topics flowed well from chapter to chapter and new questions and ethical debates arose as the book progressed. Can we really segregate professional athletes into weight classes but not genetic classes? Should employers and insurance companies have access to our genetic information? What about potential partners and spouses? And where do we draw the line? When I first picked up this book I expected a "mind over genetic matter" self-help journey, but was treated to a page-turning narrative of evolution and the products of genetic variability. I sped through each chapter and even re-read the book right after I'd finished it. I would definitely recommend Inheritance to any genre of reader, not just science enthusiasts. Because as Dr. Moalem shows us, research into rare genetic disorders has the capacity to help not only those directly afflicted, but the entire population and the populations to come.
Laura Martin's lifelong addiction to fiction took a back seat when she went to the University of Guelph for Molecular Biology and Genetics. She became fascinated with neurological conditions like Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, and is hoping to attend Dalhousie University in the spring for a Masters in Neuroscience.