Your Genes Apparently Change With the Seasons
According to a study published by a group of British and German researchers, a person’s mood, metabolism, and even sex life is affected by the seasons. Even the human immune system is dependent on it, which may explain why diseases seem to be ‘seasonal’.
Shifting genes and seasons
The team of researchers that undertook the study tested blood and fat tissue samples from over 16,000 people living in the south and north hemispheres of different countries that includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and even the Republic of Gambia and Iceland. The findings were surprising, with the researchers finding out how almost twenty-three percent of human genes from around the world change their expression levels with the seasons.
The study seems to answer why majority of people tend to be healthier during warmer seasons like summer, and why winter seems to bring about the worst of people, with many at greater risk of heart disease and mental illness when things get cold. The researchers found out that genes that promote inflammation were more active in colder months, particularly European winter months from December to February. The same genes were less active in Australia, which has a different time for winter seasons, usually around June to August.
A particular gene was singled out among the rest; ARNTL, which in laboratory mice is responsible for suppressing inflammation, was found to be more active during the summer months while it was less potent during winter.
Tropical countries tell a different story. The study shows that people living in places with tropical climates see an increase in immune cells during the colder rainy seasons. Researchers say that this is because there are diseases that are more infectious when it rains, such as malaria, and the body responds to the season accordingly.
An important find
Professor Merlin Thomas, head of Diabetic Complications at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute says that findings are actually common in nature. Despite this, the study is an important find as it means that preventive medicinal practices, such as vaccinations, may be more effective during colder seasons when the body is readying itself to respond to diseases.
Even with modern inventions like heaters and air-conditioners, he says ‘we still change with the seasons like most other animals on the planet.’ He, however, points out that it is not just the immune system that is seasons, it also affects a person’s appetite and mood, metabolic rates, and even sex life.