Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease of the digestive system. Specifically, the disease attacks tiny projections of the small intestine, called villi. These projections, when healthy, greatly increase the absorptive capacity of the digestive tract for nutrients. However, for people with celiac disease, these villi are damaged whenever the protein gluten is eaten. The subsequent loss of nutrients can lead to various other illnesses such as osteoporosis, thyroid disease and cancer
The study I chose took a nationally (U.S.) representative sample and found that celiac occurred with a frequency of 1/141 people, making it a very underdiagnosed disease. Secondly, it found that the non-Hispanic white population of the U.S. had a much greater incidence of the disease. Out of 35 studied subjects, only 6 members of racial groups other than white were found to have celiac disease. The researchers said that “genetic information was not available to confirm genetic risk” although it did correspond to a higher frequency of another gene in non-Hispanic whites. Other studies have shown that 95% of people with celiac disease have the HLA-DQ2 gene. While having this disease does not assure that you have or will develop celiac disease, the absence of this gene almost guarantees you will not develop celiac disease. While this directly ties the disease to the genetic factor, what ties the genetic factor to the racial category must be reproduction and passing down of genes within that category.
Race is a social construct, or as it was said in lecture, “biologically discrete races do not exist”. However man-made, races unfortunately still affect social classes, placing some people to a disadvantage and thus making them more susceptible to various health concerns. As Clarence Gravlee said, “it is a vicious cycle: Social inequalities shape the biology of racialized groups, and embodied inequalities perpetuate a racialized view of human biology”.
Alberto Rubio-Tapia, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, Tricia L. Brantrner, Joseph A. Murray and James E. Everhart, “The Prevalence of Celiac Disease in the United States,” American Journal of Gastroenterology 107 (2012): 1538-1544, accessed on July 12, 2013, http://www.nature.com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/ajg/journal/v107/n10/full/ajg2012219a.html
“Celiac Disease,” last modified July 12, 2013. http://www.celiaccentral.org/Celiac-Disease/21/