Cystic Fibrosis Among Caucasians

Cystic fibrosis

I’m a Caucasian woman with German and Italian heritage. One of the most dominant diseases within the Caucasian population is Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary disease in which the affected individual experiences an accumulation of thick mucus that can damage multiple organs in the body. The individual can experience difficulty breathing and problems within the respiratory system and also problems within their digestive system. As displayed in Figure 1, Cystic fibrosis has a much more common rate in Caucasians than any other race/ethnicity; One in every 2500 individuals. This is quite a staggering statistic when compared to the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander rate which is one out of every 100,000.

Cystic Fibrosis is caused by a mutation to the CFTR (cystic fibrosis trans-membrane-conductance regulator) gene located on chromosome seven. There is a high frequency for carriers of Cystic Fibrosis in individuals of Northern European descent. One of every 28 Caucasians is the carrier for the mutated gene. Because Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease, socioeconomic status does not contribute to the occurrence of the disease. However, low socioeconomic status has reportedly been linked to poorer outcomes in children with the disease.

In Clarence C. Gravlee’s article, “How Race Becomes Biology: Embodiment of Social Inequality” he says, “The toxic effects of exposure to racism in one’s own lifetime include a higher risk of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and other conditions. These conditions in turn affect the health of the next generation, because they alter the quality of the fetal and early postnatal environment.” Diseases can be relayed onto future generations in two separate ways. One way would be the passing onto offspring via genetics, such as seen with Cystic Fibrosis. The other way would be the passing onto the next generation via their cultural and social environments, such as seen in the video “Bad Sugar” with Type II Diabetes.

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