Cystic Fibrosis is so prevalent among Caucasians due to genetics. CF is a genetic disease characterized by the build-up of mucous throughout the body and its organs. This mucous, instead of being slimy, is abnormally thick and sticky, which causes many problems for the individual. For most, problems in the lungs are most common. This mucous builds up and can block the airways so the person is constantly coughing or wheezing. CF can also affect the digestive system by blocking the pancreatic ducts through which digestive enzymes and insulin flow. This disease can be fatal.
Mutations in the CFTR gene along with a few other genes are what cause cystic fibrosis. The CFTR gene codes for a channel protein that transports chloride ions in and out of cells. Chloride is important for healthy cell functioning, but also for the movement of water. Without this water, slimy mucous cannot be properly formed, thereby creating the stickiness. The passing on of this gene through families is what causes it to be a genetic disease, rather than due to other factors such as social. Different environmental factors, though, can affect the development of cystic fibrosis (National Library of Medicine).
CF is an autosomal recessive disease. This means that both parents have to be carriers of the disease or gene responsible in order to pass it down to their child. Therefore, there is a 25% chance that the child will get the disease. I tried to research why the genes that cause CF are most prevalent in Caucasians, but did not come up with any clear results. I am making the assumption, though, that some sort of genetic mutation in a Caucasian first is what results in more white people having the disease. As people mated with others of different “races,” this disease has spread to others (American Lung Association).
The relationship between race, genetics, and health was somewhat of a blurry one to me before this week. As I read the articles and watched the video clips, I realized that race is a social invention, not based on genetic differences. All people, no matter what “race”, are genetically similar, with the exception of different mutations that cause us to be individuals. Genetics, though, are based on different base sequences in our DNA that cause different proteins to be made. Health is based on our genetics rather than our “race.” In one of the videos, a study was talked about where the infant mortality rates of Africans were compared to African Americans and White Americans. The results indicated that the African and White American rates were similar, whereas the African American rate was increased. Therefore, it isn’t the genetics or the color of their skin that was responsible, but societal stresses.
Genea. “Cystic Fibrosis.” Accessed July 12, 2013. http://www.genea.com.au/Library/Genetic-disorders/Cystic-Fibrosis/Cystic-Fibrosis
National Library of Medicine. “Cystic Fibrosis.” Last Modified July 8, 2013. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/cystic-fibrosis
American Lung Association. “Cystic Fibrosis.” Accessed July 12, 2013. http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/publications/solddc-chapters/cf.pdf