The relationship between race, genetics, health seems to be very hard to pinpoint. As stated in the lectures, the debate is skewed by social, political, and economic biases. There are some interesting things that can be learned from race and health, but people are sometimes too caught up in the implications that might come from research in linking race, genetics, and population health. The example that was brought up in class that I thought was very interesting was the correlation between sickle cell genes and the malaria in Africa. The adaptation of the people in the area is one that shows that selective pressures are a very real determinant of who survives in parts of Africa that have a high prevalence of malaria. There is a correlation between race and health, but it seems that lifestyle is a far better indicator of how healthy a person is. The example of the Pima Indians show that they are genetically predisposed to store fat and therefore have a higher prevalence of diabetes. This is also attributed to their body’s ability to store fat and use energy more efficiently, but there was also a large correlation of where they lived and their prevalence of diabetes. This shows that although the Thrifty Genotype Hypothesis can explain predisposition, it does not necessarily address why people of the same economic status get the same disease more often than not.
I chose to look at the amount of tuberculosis among ethnic groups in the United States. I was surprised to find that there was actually a larger amount of Asian Americans who had tuberculosis compared to any other ethnic group that was in the study. Rates for Asians were 19.8/100,000 and were almost four times more than the next leading race (blacks at 5.7/100,000). I do believe that the prevalence was greater amongst Asians because of genetic factors, but I also believe that it is important to factor in the living situations of the people that were considered in this test. The genetic factors do play a role in how susceptible someone is to a certain disease/disorder but it is also important to note how social and economic factors are a better indicator of having these conditions. The study that this graph was taken from discussed that the largest amount of people with tuberculosis came from low socioeconomic status and it was important to address the state of people from these areas. I chose to look at TB because it is something that has a very low incidence in America, but still has a disparity amongst different races within America.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “World TB Day: New U.S. Data for 2012.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2013/dpk-world-tb-day.html (accessed July 9, 2014).