10 Very Rare (But Beneficial) Genetic Mutations In People


Some people think the words “genetic mutation” have a negative connotation, but in some cases, these anomalies can benefit people and have positive effects. From preventing damage and disease to adding a sixth sense, here are some rare but extraordinary examples of anomalies that work for you rather than against you!

1. Tetrachromacy

This genetic mutation gives people a superpower when it comes to seeing color. Individuals with tetrachromacy can see beyond the normal color spectrum because they have an extra cone cell in their eyes.

Most people only have three cones, but these folks have a fourth, allowing them to see a more impressive range of hues. This must lead to a jaw-dropping sensory experience on a daily basis, providing an appreciation for the everyday beauty in even the most mundane moments.  

2. High bone density

If you’re one of these lucky few, your bones are significantly stronger than the average population, so congratulations! This anomaly changes the nature of bone tissue, making for a more resilient skeleton that can tolerate more damage than the average human. TThis means there is less chance of fractures and breaks.

They can feel free to play contact sports without fear and generally live more confidently. Beyond that, this anomaly offers scientists an opportunity to advance how we strengthen bones and treat osteoporosis or fractures for a more hopeful future. 

3. Sickle cell trait 

Those carrying the sickle cell trait are naturally resistant to malaria, which is one of the world’s worst diseases. They carry just a single copy of the anomaly that causes sickle cell disease, which causes abnormal hemoglobin production. 

Although sickle cell disease can be devastating, those who only have the sickle cell trait experience milder symptoms with the added benefit of malaria protection. Not surprisingly, in populations where malaria is prevalent, more people have sickle cell trait. With specialists researching malaria resistance via this anomaly, we might just be able to get rid of malaria for good!

4. Lactase persistence 

You may have heard of lactose intolerance. When people get older, they lose their ability to digest lactose (milk sugars) as well as they did when they were younger. But this mutation allows people to eat as many dairy products as they like without feeling the consequences! 

Thanks to the alteration of the LCT gene, which controls the lactase enzyme, people with this genetic makeup get to reap all the benefits of dairy products, like increased calcium and vitamin D levels. It’s often seen in areas where high amounts of dairy products are consumed, showing you just how adaptive humans really are.

5. Delayed aging 

Who knew the fountain of youth was a genetic anomaly that existed? Easily the most desirable on the list, this phenomenon occurs when a person ages much slower than an average human would. They might look younger, live longer, and resist diseases related to age with ease. 

Time doesn’t affect these individuals like it does the rest of us, and their existence is proof that we could one day extend humans’ lifespans or at least improve their quality of life once they reach a certain age. 

6. Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy

People with this condition exhibit a large amount of muscle mass and a small amount of body fat. They can house up to double the amount of muscle mass that you’d normally find on someone, and unlike some of the conditions on this list, there aren’t any side effects—besides looking absolutely shredded! 

Instead, their development follows a standard pattern, with their muscles being the only distinguishing factor. It is caused by a change in the MSTN gene, which voids the inhibitory aspect of myostatin, which is responsible for muscle growth. 

7. Enhanced pain tolerance

Ever wonder why some people have a higher pain tolerance? Whether it’s getting a paper cut or experiencing a debilitating accident, people with extraordinarily high pain tolerance are shockingly resilient. Given the limitations of pain perception research, scientists aren’t entirely sure why.

Hopefully, we get more knowledge on this condition in order to better come up with pain management solutions and analgesic treatments for people who need it most. 

8. Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM)

Talk about having a memory like an elephant! People with HSAM can recall small and complex details from their history, showcasing an unparalleled memory capacity. 

Initially discovered by Professor James McGaugh and his peers in 2006, the scientific community is still fascinated by this condition. Seen in people such as Jill Price, who have wildly vivid memories that can go back years, HSAM has plenty to teach us about cognitive health, memory, and other disciplines related to the brain. 

9. Perfect pitch

Otherwise known as absolute pitch, this rare mutation belongs to the more musically inclined. It gives one the ability to identify or recreate musical notes without requiring any outside material to refer to. This is different from relative pitch, which is where people can differentiate between various musical notes based on where they lie on the scale. 

Absolute pitch, on the other hand, requires sharper attention to musical detail, which may be the result of genetics or early musical training. It’s still somewhat of a mystery to scientists.

Portrait of a young woman singing into a red microphone standing in front of a wallpapered background.

10. High altitude resistance

Coping with thin air at high altitudes is difficult for most people, but not for those with high altitude resistance. Nope, those folks can easily breathe in a low-oxygen environment, and the population on the Tibetan plateau has this trait since they live in this environment. To adapt, these individuals developed increased lung capacity, letting them make the most of each breath, even at high elevations. 

They also utilize oxygen more effectively, making better use of the limited oxygen available. Finally, the last key adaptation is having more red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body, keeping tissues optimally oxygenated.