White Americans and Cystic Fibrosis

The health concern that I choose to research was Cystic Fibrosis in Caucasian Americans. The main reason that I choose this disease was because it has a large rate of occurrence in Caucasians, and because it is difficult to find a disease that more disproportionally occurs white Americans when compared to other groups.  The disease itself is inherited and primarily affects the lungs and digestive systems. It is causes by a defective gene that produces a protein that causes mucus to be abnormally thick and sticky. This can cause a number of symptoms such as salty tasting skin, constant coughing sometimes with increases mucus, shortness of breath, impaired growth,  weight loss, constipation, loss of appetite, bloating, abnormal stool, fatigue, nasal congestion, increased chance of pneumonia, sinus pain, and inflammation of the pancreas.


                Although the risk of Cystic Fibrosis is prevalent among many Americans, it is disproportionately found in Caucasian Americans with ancestry from central or northern Europe. This is mainly because of the genetic factors that determine if you will born with Cystic Fibrosis are predominant in Caucasians with European backgrounds. Although there is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis, there are multiple forms of treatment aimed at extending and increasing the quality of life of those afflicted. These treatments include antibiotics, enzyme therapy, pneumonia vaccines, oxygen therapy, special diets, vitamin supplements and lifestyle treatments such as avoiding smoke and dust and drinking more fluids than usual.  The average lifespan on someone with Cystic Fibrosis is about 35 to 40 years, which is a drastic increase as compared to the last 50 years.

                The relationship between race, genetics and health can all become readily apparent for most circumstances if you look for it, but are not present in all situations. A good example of the three relating to each other would be the malaria and sickle cell anemia that we discussed in class, but many illnesses can just as easily be a result of only one factor such as the Chernobyl accident.  In that instance, many people were made ill, but race and genetics had very little to do with the cause and prevalence rates.





1 thought on “White Americans and Cystic Fibrosis

  1. I liked your explanation of the relationship between race, genetics, and health. I agree that the relationships between race, genetics, and health are apparent if you just look for it. I myself just wrote about how the three are connected and have a close relationship. I didn’t even think to consider how they are not present in all situations which I believe is true. I also didn’t consider the example of the Chernobyl accident and how many people were affected and yet had nothing to do with race and genetics. I also think your example of malaria with sickle cell anemia was another good way to show a connection. You could also have used the Pima Indians and Type 2 Diabetes that we discussed in class and there relationship between race, genetics, and health.
    I don’t find racial categories very useful in clinical studies. It may help in a small way and it may be helpful to take race into consideration in the overall picture but I don’t think it should be the biggest consideration in the clinical study. Also I think to be more cost effective I think they should do clinical studies that can give a benefit to the general population and not just one group. Also another way to talk about racialized health disparities is to show a graph along with your table of numbers or to give many different examples for each race and not just the Caucasian population.

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