I'm new here so please go easy on me.

Do our genes-the ones that carry our appearance, intelligence and other traits get destroyed or lost due to irregular sleep, excessive body heat, smoking, drinking and other factors?

Asking cause, I have some relatives of mine with really good genes that are worth passing down but afraid that their children wouldn't get it because of the abovementioned habits.

  • $\begingroup$ Personal medical questions and health advice are off-topic on Biology. We cannot safely answer questions for your specific situation and you should always consult a doctor for medical advice. In this site, we just answer academic queries about biological principles. You should reformat the question to remove all the references of health advice if you don't want your question to be put on hold. Moreover, try to put in some research effort from your side. We would really appreciate it. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG May 14 '19 at 9:27

This is a good opportunity to correct some major misconceptions. I'll be brief and avoid being technical because this is introductory biology.

First, genes are present on DNA, and "store instructions" on building proteins, among other things. Poor diet, lifestyle and sleeplessness do not primarily affect the DNA itself, but rather the reading of it and the production of the proteins. Genes seldom get lost or damaged in a way that affects the next generation, at least in modern humans. Analogy: genes are the recipe in the cookbook, not the prepared dish. Lifestyle choices affect the dish.

This is because the aforementioned "bad habits" must affect cells responsible for the next generation (sex cells) - which is unlikely - unless the effects of the "bad habits" are strong enough to influence the entire system and cause damage to the production or maintenance of sex cells or their DNA. Sex cells are well isolated from the rest of the body. The other foreseeable way these habits can affect the next generation is to affect pregnancy itself. Poor sleep or smoking during pregnancy is obviously not advised. Gestation is a critical period in development.

In short, the expression and action of genes is certainly affected by sleep, diet, and so on, but the genes themselves are much less affected. Mutations may build in the body and contribute to the formation of cancer and other disease, but the sex cells specifically are very likely to remain mostly unaffected; it is these cells' DNA that is passed down to children.

As for the I have some relatives of mine with really good genes that are worth passing down* statement... That's a matter of eugenics and short-sighted opinion, which is strictly not scientific. Let's not address that!

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    $\begingroup$ There can be epigenetic effects on the gametes; see this. Moreover, lifestyle can affect the mutation rates and germ cell differentiation all of which can affect the quality of the gametes. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG May 14 '19 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ At least age is shown to be correlated with increased de novo mutations in the sperm. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG May 14 '19 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ @S Pr sorry, I never meant to come out as a racist person. Apologies, but I really didn't mean it. Although I do understand why it can be misinterpreted. $\endgroup$ – noorav May 16 '19 at 9:39

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