On average, each person is walking around with 10 gene mutations that predisposes them to certain diseases. You can thank your family tree for those. Recently, Dr. Paul Durham, director of the Center for Biomedical and Life Sciences in the Jordan Valley Innovation Center and professor of biology for Missouri State University, has begun researching epigenetics.
This is the study of gene expression that doesn't involve mutation of DNA. Instead, environment can greatly influence which genes are turned on or off during someone's lifetime.
"The environment can really impact you in either a positive way or a negative way," Durham explained. "It really depends on your predisposition and whether you have the ability to buffer that bad environment."