Cystic Fibrosis Among Caucasians

It is interesting to say that there is no genome that determines which race an individual can identify themselves with. Therefore, individuals have the freedom to identify themselves with whatever race they chose; obviously the most common way for individuals to do this is through skin color and ethnicity. Hence, there also is no direct link between race and health, although the environment and atmosphere that the race choses to settle can have multiple environmental and ecological effects on the individuals health. There could be a direct like between genetics and health though. For example, sickle-cell anemia is common in individuals living in west Africa, and carriers of sickle-cell disease are genetically resistant to Malaria (which is also common in Africa). However, individuals who are homozygous dominant for sickle-cell, obviously can be seriously ill from the disease. In conclusion, individuals who are heterozygous for sickle-cell (have only one copy of the gene) survive better in west Africa.

The health disparity that I chose to analyze is Cystic Fibrosis among caucasian europeans. I believe that the reason why this disease is so common in caucasians is due to a genetic disorder in which whites can more easily inherit than other races. The above image demonstrates that the genetic disease with the white population is the most common with 1 in 2,500 newborns getting the disease. The other ethnic groups are less common such as African Americans (1/17,000) and Asian Americans (1/31,000) [1].The disease is due to a mutation in the CFTR gene which disrupts the function of chloride channels across cell membranes [1]. Therefore, if chloride cannot cross the cell membrane, osmosis is disrupted and what is left behind is sticky mucous that is stuck within the airways and digestive tract of that individual. Although there are no genes that specifically encode for an individuals ‘race’, there could be a slight difference in the genome for the CFTR gene that allows whites to get Cystic Fibrosis more often than other races. Also, the disease is classified as a recessive disorder, indicating that when it is inherited, the individual must get a copy from both parents in order to receive the disease.

[2] “Cystic Fibrosis.” “Genetic Home Reference.” Reviewed in August 2012. Visited on July 9, 2014. Web.


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