This week we’ve been discussing many things having to do with race, genetics, and health. These three topics are compared because they go hand in hand for most of the discussion. As talked about in lecture, race cannot be determined by genes. Race is more or less determined by a group of people’s habits, cultural beliefs, and how someone identifies with surrounding people. These races health can be affected by similar things because of their close living quarters, nutritional ways, and cultural beliefs. An example of this is in West Africa, where living there, an individual has increased risk for acquiring malaria. Malaria is a parasite that resides in mosquitos and when they are deposited into humans through a bite, they attack our blood cells. Once inside our blood stream, the parasite multiples until our blood cells explode and become sickle-like. People of West Africa, however, have become somewhat immune to this parasite through evolution. They have developed a gene that helps them fight off the bug. There are mutations though; someone could have both genes or none at all, leading to complications. Genetics can have a place in race, but ecological factors also play a larger role.
The health disparity I choose was heart disease. Heart disease is a term used to describe many diseases that affect the heart (coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart disease, etc). This is also the leading cause of deaths in the United States where it is highest among Caucasians. I believe heart disease is so prevalent in the states because we as white Americans do a poor job of taking care of ourselves. Many of us are consumed with busy work days and taking care of our families that we forget to have regular checkups, take the time to exercise, or even eat healthy. Heart disease can come from diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and smoking. While many of these can be linked genetically it also has to do with social norms. Stopping at a fast food restaurant is likely when you are in need of a quick lunch or aren’t around healthy foods. Most of our society depends on easy, fast moving things. If you are hanging with friends you may want to go out to eat and may not order healthy. I believe a large part of it though, is that we are uneducated on how to live a healthy, safe lifestyle.