In America and throughout the world we often use skin color to classify people by race. This is a very subjective way to classify people and it speaks to the arbitrary nature of the social construction of race. However, race does have importance in medicine, as it reflects a similar genetic makeup amongst a population of people. Genes are important to identify because it can tell a person a lot about their health. This information be useful in determining what types of illnesses an individual may be susceptible to. 23andme, a private company that offers ancestry information through DNA testing, once provided a service where they would warn customers about the possibility of disease based on where their ancestors once lived, although this service was halted by the FDA until the research behind it was more concrete.
I chose Melanoma amongst Irish people. Irish are generally very fair-skinned. Fairer skin offers less protection against UV rays from the sun. This becomes a problem when Irish people are exposed to too much sunlight, the skin can burn and moles form. This can cause the Melanocytes in your skin to mutate and grow uncontrollably. Melanocytes produce Melanin, the chemical which gives your skin its color. MElanoma is a very deadly form of cancer because of the way and how quickly it spreads.
The graph I chose doesn’t show statistics for the Irish in particular. They are lumped in with “All White” versus American Indian, Asian, Hispanic and Black. However you can still see just how big of a role genetics plays in one’s risk of developing melanoma. Even the races considered to be of the lighter end of the spectrum still have a significantly lower risk of melanoma than those classified as white. Race’s significance in this case can hardly be overstated when it comes to risk of melanoma.
Accessed July 11, WebMD,