Multiple Sclerosis among Caucasians

week 2 MS pie chart


As we learned in our second lecture this week discrete races do not exists and that race is not a substitute for genetics. In genetic determinism genetic similarities are often misinterpreted to propose they create a biological race. Race is often thought of as cultural construct that according to the Gravlee article “becomes biology”. The explanation of race becoming a part of biology stems from the reinforcement of systematic racism and inequalities to racialized groups and individuals. The systematic racism and inequalities that occur in racialized groups affect the individuals within the population. These inequalities are transferred into an individual’s biological systems in some way and then in turn affect their genes. This explanation can lead us to a further understanding of why there are racial health disparities.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system that disrupts the way information from the brain travels to the rest of the body. It is usually unpredictable and often hard to diagnose. MS is thought to be more prevalent in Caucasian populations with northern European ancestry. It is thought to be more prevalent in these populations because of a possibly complex ethnic and geographic interaction. Migration from one geographic area to another is also noted as affecting a person’s risk of developing MS depending on where they are migrating to. Persons who migrate later on in their life can show a change in risk generationally. This would mean that their children or their children’s children would show a change in risk. It would make sense then that Caucasian populations would possibly be at a greater risk for MS because of this. Many immigrants that moved to the U.S. and Canada in the 1800’s through the 1900’s are of northern European ancestry which is the group with a greater prevalence of MS occurring.

* (note that the picture is from the Stony Brook’s guide for nurses on the section specifically looking at MS)

Picture: “Guide for Nurses,” Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine, accessed July 11, 2014,
Clarence C. Gravlee, “How Race Becomes Biology: Embodiment of Social Inequality,” American Journal of Physical Anthroplogy 139;47-57 (2009)
“Who gets MS? (Epidemiology),” National Multiple Sclerosis Society, accessed Jully 11,2014,

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