Parkinson’s Disease among Caucasians

According to this weeks lecture, there is no correlation between one’s race and one’s genes. Race can not be determined by one’s biological definition. In a sociology class I took last year, we learned that race is socially constructed, meaning the people of society came up with this division we call “race” as a method to justify oppression. There were no tests done or blood samples taken that could prove this classification of society at the time, it is essentially linked back to one’s ethnicity, skin color, origins, etc. In terms of the relation between race and health, there exists topics of debate. Even though it is proven that there is no genetic difference between races, there still proves to be differences in health between those races. For example, AIDS among African Americans or beast cancer among White women. There are many other categories that factor into the prevalence of one disease over another including the environment, sanitation, socioeconomic status, etc. In terms of genetics and one’s health, there exists data that supports in favor of this relationship. One’s genes can play a leading role in determining their health outcome, for example, one’s parent could genetically pass down a food allergy to their child, resulting in a predictable lifestyle outcome in terms of consumption and dietary restrictions for that individual.

The health disparity I chose is Parkinson’s Disease. This disease seems to be more prevalent among the White population in comparison to others. This outcome can be due to a multiplicity of factors, potentially those such as one’s environment, one’s genes, or exposure to particular elements as a result of one’s culture, etc; all of which can either be in support or against one’s chances for contracting this disease. I would say that there is not a social determinant proclaiming the prominence of whites in contracting this disease, yet I would have to further investigate that theory.


1. Stephen K. Van Den Eeden, Caroline M. Tanner, Allan L. Bernstein, Robin D. Fross, Amethyst Leimpeter, Daniel A. Bloch and Lorene M. Nelson, “Incidence of Parkinson’s Disease: Variation by Age, Gender, and Race/Ethnicity,” American Journal of Epidemiology 157, no. 11 (2003): 1015-1022, doi: 10.1093/aje/kwg068.

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  1. Danielle Boore says:

    I think I may have been in the same sociology class because I remember hearing something similar. It amazes me that there is still a lot of trouble with race when there really is no genetic difference between different races. Also it makes it more obvious just how judgmental a majority of this world really is. As far as diseases being more prominent in certain races it could just be due to medical ecology, cultural ecology or adaptations. I think a lot of people stay close to where they grew up when they move away and start their own family which could eventually lead to some segregation of races. This will have an effect on the cultural practices someone is surrounded by their whole life, either being exposed to certain risk factors or tools that will help with prevention of being exposed to some diseases. Also, in different countries where a specific race is more common there are different available resources and practices that have an effect on passing on certain diseases or cures for them. Alisyn also listed these as some of the causes of Parkinson’s disease. Overall, I find it very interesting how there is not a test that can be done to determine race but still the difference in disease frequencies between certain races is so large.

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