The health of a population depends on the balance of its ecosystem. When an ecosystem is not balanced, consequences occur that puts strain on a population. This may cause the population to adapt in adjustment. Since human reproduction is affected by ecological factors, this has forced the human race to evolve in different ways. Some may call these way ‘races,’ although it is not biologically proven that races exist. Race was probably formed through “unique material circumstances” (Gravelee, 2009) that humans have endured through hundreds of years. It is hard to distinguish different races because even, say a white man from another white man, varies greatly. Human genetic variation is mostly clinal (Gravelee, 2009). A combination of ‘race’ (biological factors) and geographical placement will determine one’s health. Genes do play a role, but environment and diet place an even bigger one. For example, the government gave the Pima free but very unhealthy food during a period of starvation. This impoverished community led their group of people to have the highest rate of diabetes of any other. Who you speak to, how much stress you’re under, and how polluted your air is are other examples of non-genetic factors that can affect your health. Asian Americans in Richmond today are still struggling to control the tuberculosis outbreak because of the environment constrictions they are placed under. Due to social disparities, they cannot leave this town that has no access to healthy food and difficulty with retrieving water. Tasks like washing their clothes or going to the bathroom become very unsanitary. With their immune systems already down in such tight quarters, they cannot help but have slew of infected, contagious people.
Table 1. The number of suicides per 100 000 by counties. Hungary vs. Romania. 2008 (Kalmár).
I know that I am a mix of French, German, and other things, but I am foremost Hungarian. As I explained earlier, this could questionably not be a race, but this group definitely has some prevalent health issues. Twenty five percent have an anxiety disorder (Fenyo, 1997). Having the highest rate of suicide in the world, Hungary’s major mental illnesses include major depression (56-87%), alcohol or drug related illness (26-55%), schizophrenia (6-13%), or personality disorders (Kalmár). Thus, they kill themselves in very grotesque ways. The alcoholism conflict also ties them to another higher-than-normal amount of people with liver sclerosis. We can see the difference in Hungary’s own neighboring country, Romania, in Table 1. These problems are mainly due to social factors. WWI caused a lot of trauma for Hungary, including losing a majority of its territory. This is when health issues arose. Post-war accelerated industrialization broke families up as people took different places in the wealth latter. Also, some Hungarians claim that their country is “caught in between two worlds, East and West, and feel that they are ‘too western’ for their geographical location” (Fenyo, 1997). Suicide can be looked at as a “desperate and heroic act” in some cultures, and perhaps that is why everyone and their brother are killing themselves in Hungary and anywhere else the Hungarians may immigrate. There are few studies on the subject so it is currently being looked into. It is difficult to find how Americans with strong Hungarian roots such as myself may be affected.
Fenyo, Krisztina. “Gloomy Sunday.” Phespirit, May 1997. <http://www.phespirit.info/gloomysunday/article_02.htm>
Gravelee, Charles C. “How Race Becomes Biology: Embodiment of Social Inequality.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139:47–57, 2009.
Kalmár, Sándor. “Is Suicide a Hungarian Phenomenon?” Internet and Psychiatry. <http://www.internetandpsychiatry.com/joomla/home-page/editorials-and-commentaries/550-is-suicide-a-hungarian-phenomenon.html>.