Caucasian- Skin Cancer

It is hard to define the relationships between race, genetics, and health because first you must define each one separately. According to Gravlee, he defines race as, “a culturally structured, systematic way of looking at, perceiving, and interpreting reality… that humans are naturally divided into a few biological subdivisions. These subdivisions, or races, are thought to be discrete, exclusive, permanent, and relatively homogenous.” Although there are correlations between race, genetics, and health, that does not mean that race and genetics can be classified as causations. To further elaborate on this method, in the lecture we looked at the prevalence of type two diabetes in Pima Mexican Americans. Although this specific race of Americans has a higher prevalence of type two diabetes, this does not mean that every Pima Mexican American will develop type two diabetes. It just demonstrates that there is a higher prevalence of type two diabetes in that particular race. Further more about the relationship between race, genetics, and health is that there is no actual way to determine race. Race is just a category that one defines themselves as belonging to.

Skin cancer refers to any form of cancer that begins in the cells of the skin. Skin cancer can be found in any layer of the skin, and the deeper the layer of skin that the cancer affects, the more serious the cancer is. Skin cancer is found to be more prevalent among Caucasians. This is due strictly to the amount of melanin the body produces. Caucasians, compared to African-Americans, produce less melanin; 3.4 to 13.4 SPF protective factor. The low amount of melanin and the light skin color of Caucasians results in the increased risk of being susceptible to skin cancer.   Some doctors even believe that some African Americans are even immune to skin cancer due to their high amount of melanin in their skin.

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GOHARA, MONA, and MARITZA PEREZ. “Skin Cancer and Skin of Color.” Skin Cancer Foundation.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Rolando Barajas says:

    Although I do agree on some of your points, I would just say when determining race it’s important to consider it as social/cultural differences and not so much as an slight biological differences. When seeing race through a cultural aspect one could argue that for some instances race could lead to a strong correlation of certain diseases. Although what you said is true that if you are a Pima Indian you are not 100 percent going to have diabetes, but for example if I were to be born as a Pima Indian. Due to the way their society works I will be very likely to have diabetes because of my family dynamics revolves around eating cheap, processed, unhealthy food. Their culture and daily social interaction, thus their race revolves around the consumption of said food.

    Based on this view if we look at how a “race” or culture interacts with their own environment and social dynamics we can accurately see clinical studies truly benefit a community that suffers from a health disparity. For example based on your table and topic, if there existed a club or group of Caucasian individuals that didn’t believe in the use of sunblock because they want to be one with the sun (hypothetical). It’s important to understand they don’t have as much melanin compared to other races but more importantly it would be useful to observe that group’s “culture” in order to account how often they are exposed to the harmful UV sunlight without the protection of sunblock.

  2. Jenny Hallesy says:

    I really enjoyed the fact that you took Gravlee’s definition of race into account while writing your reflection because I believe he took a take on it that many people would not consider when asked to define race. Since there is a correlation between genetics, race, and health, it is important to take these factors into consideration when studying specific diseases and should not be completely disregarded during research. I especially think this about health and genetics since genetics play a huge role in determining the diseases a person will be more susceptible to. In the case you described about the Pima, it is also very important to think about environment as well. For these people, type II diabetes did not become as prevalent until their water supply used to grow their crops was cut off. Only having the sugary foods given to them by the government to consume was the ultimate reason why diabetes became such a common disease amongst the group.
    I do agree with you about skin cancer being a disease that predominately affects one race over another due to genetics. This is just one of many examples of how race is a useful category in clinical studies. This is because, when studying certain diseases such as skin cancer, it makes sense to perform the studies on those that are more susceptible to getting skin cancer rather than studying those that are less susceptible. This allows for scientists to have a more clear view on what is causing the disease. For example, when it comes to skin cancer, skin pigmentation and melanin are directly related to the chance of getting skin cancer. Using people from a race with lighter skin means they produce less melanin which results in a greater chance of getting skin cancer. The correlation between the decrease in melanin and the increased chance of getting skin cancer is much easier to see in light skinned people as opposed to those with dark skin.

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