CAN ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS DIRECTLY IMPACT THE GENOME?
The environment can directly affect one’s DNA. Examples include ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun; this causes bases in your DNA to become crosslinked and ultimately causes genetic mutations, which can result in skin cancer. Other examples include smoking (which can lead to cancer in the lungs, esophagus, pancreas, etc.) and exposure to chemicals such as alkylating agents (used, for example, in treatment of textiles) as well as naturally produced compounds (e.g., aflatoxin B1). All of these can directly modify one’s DNA and lead to genetic mutations. If these mutations affect oncogenes and/or tumor suppressor genes, they can cause cancer.