A mutation is a change in our DNA sequence that happens as a result of DNA copying errors or environmental influences such as ultraviolet light and cigarette smoke.
The sequence of A, C, G, and T nucleotides in human DNA can undergo changes or "mutations" throughout the course of a lifetime.
This causes modifications to the proteins that are produced. This can be both negative and positive.
During DNA replication, mutations can emerge if errors are produced and not addressed in a timely manner.
Mutations can also result through exposure to environmental variables such as cigarette smoke, ultraviolet light, and radiation.
Typically, cells are able to identify and repair mutation-causing damage before it becomes permanent.
Mutations contribute to the genetic diversity of animals. Mutations can also be inherited, especially when they have a beneficial effect.
For instance, sickle cell anaemia is caused by a mutation in the gene that guides the synthesis of haemoglobin protein. This results in the red blood cells assuming an unnatural, stiff, sickle-like form. In African populations, however, this mutation provides protection against malaria.
Nonetheless, mutation can impair normal gene activity and result in illnesses such as cancer.
Cancer is the most prevalent genetic illness in humans; it is caused by abnormalities in multiple genes that regulate growth. Cancer-causing genes can sometimes be present from birth, increasing a person's risk of developing the disease.