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Is helping in our genes?

We help from my great-grandfather. Because we are required by the situation, our needs, or our moral backbone does not allow us to do otherwise. Undeniably, our personality is shaped by our genes and the environment, but can we develop a helping mechanism, or do we inherit it along with our genes?

The gene for altruism

More than 10 years ago, scientists from the University of Bonn conducted a study to investigate the influence of genes on altruistic behavior. Volunteers from the university were to remember a series of numbers and then repeat them. In return, they received 5 euros, which they could anonymously leave for themselves or donate to charity. Importantly, the students had a cheek swab taken at the start of the study to check for COMT gene variants. It encodes an enzyme that deactivates various neurotransmitters in our brain that affect our behavior, such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine, which is related to the emergence of positive emotions and motivation to act.

The magazine "Social Cognitive and Affective Neurosciene" informs that "For almost 15 years, two variants of the COMT gene have been known, which differ from each other by only one building block in the DNA structure. This causes one amino acid in the resulting enzyme, i.e. methionine, to be replaced by another - valine. This replacement has important consequences: the enzyme with valine is almost four times more efficient at work than the methionine version, and as a result, people with this variant break down more dopamine than those without it "

Experience has shown that students carrying the valine variant of the gene gave up twice as much money as those with the second version of the gene.

Natural, human reflex

Often thinking about help, we think of it as an unconditional reflex caused by a specific, demanding situation or need. I am tempted to say that it is impossible not to help, and that helping is as natural as eating breakfast. Only we don't always eat breakfast. And we decide what to eat for this breakfast. This metaphor is to illustrate the (actually always) rooted in us scheme of helping. It is impossible not to help. There is no person in the world who has never helped anyone. We speak through empathy, compassion, willingness to change or even hope. There is probably no person who did not refuse to help. Because we are not always able, because we do not always have the strength and we do not always have the strength, and in helping you have to measure your strength on your intentions. Behind helping is a series of activities that we consciously or not do. And it was our grandparents or parents who taught us that good comes back and that it is worth sharing.

Helping genes and genes

The answer to the question about help written in genes comes DKMS foundation and her social campaign "Pomożesz? Because you can. It's in your genes. By educating people about blood cancers and cardiovascular diseases, the Foundation encourages everyone to become a donor of bone marrow stem cells. Bone marrow is the most precious gift we can give to another person. Sharing what we have in our genes costs us nothing and does not endanger our health.

We, by sharing what we literally have inside, can give someone life. It costs us nothing except time, which usually means a lot to the needy.

 The activities of the foundation show perfectly that each of us has something that we can give to others

Joanna Karp
press@pomocniludzie.pl