I self identify as a white american and I chose to write about melanoma because it is a disease that predominantly affects and is contracted by white americans. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer caused by unprotected exposure to UV radiation. What makes melanoma stand out from other predominantly white affecting diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, is that is it contracted at some point during an individuals life rather than genetically inherited. The exposure to UV radiation turns normal skin cells abnormal and those abnormal cells begin to attack its surrounding cells. As with most diseases, any ethnic group has the chance of contracting it, but melanoma is most common in fair-skinned people, predominantly whites. I believe this has to do with the amount of eumelanin in an individual’s skin. Eumelanin works as a blocker of UV radiation, and the more eumelanin in the skin, the darker the complexion. So while white americans have low amounts of eumelanin and have less UV protection, african americans and other darker complexion ethnic groups have more eumelanin and more UV protection built into their skin. The fairer the skin the more likely to contract melanoma.
Based on this week’s material it can be seen that genetics connect to health just as much as race connects to health. As seen in West Africa, the millions of inhabitants there have a genetic defense against an otherwise deadly disease of malaria. Being heterozygous for sickle cell anemia can protect these people against malaria. In this case, genetics is intertwined with the health of those who live in West Africa. Moving East to the Africans living near the Nile River it can be seen that race as well is intertwined with health. Young black boys often play in the Nile River and contract schistosomiasis while many other races dont have to jump in the Nile River to avoid the sweltering heat of the sun. Here it is seen that race and location also are intertwined with health.
D’Orazio, John A., Stuart Jarrett, and Amanda Marsch. “Melanoma – Epidemiology, Genetics and Risk Factors.” Intech. Google. Accessed July 10, 2013. http://www.intechopen.com/books/recent-advances-in-the-biology-therapy-and-management-of-melanoma/melanoma-epidemiology-genetics-and-risk-factors.