Race, genetics, and health all overlap. They influence each other, but no one factor can determine the outcome of the others. Environmental factors can end up influencing genetics, and ultimately health over time. One example would be the sickle cell gene. Over time, mutations occurred and the genetics of certain people were altered. This, in turn affected mostly people of the same race, based on their mutual location. Whether or not the sickle cell trait was present or absent, had a huge impact on a person’s health. Another example that shows the relationship between health, race, and genetics is the classic case of malaria in Africa. Over time, some of the people of Africa have become immune to malaria. This is because their genes changed after malaria being present for so long. A mutation occurred, giving many people immunity to malaria. Our population in the United States isn’t equipped with this mutation. Based on the race of most people in Africa, and a large population of white Americans, it is easy to see how the health of certain races in our country would be different regarding malaria in comparison to someone in Africa. Osteoporosis is commonly found in older women of Asian and Caucasian decent. One factor contributing to this increase is biological. Women with a white ethnicity could have a lower bone mass causing an increase in the rate of Osteoporosis. Another factor that may contribute to the increase in Osteoporosis in certain women may be the physical activity they do in their daily lives. Physical activity and certain nutrients can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Women of other races/ethnicities may do more physical lifting and exercise their bones more, in turn, strengthening their bones. Another interesting factor to consider when looking at prevalence rates of Osteoporosis among white/Asian women is age. Osteoporosis typically affects older women over the age of 65. White and Asian women tend to live a long time, giving them time to develop the disease.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ” Osteoporosis or Low Bone Mass at the Femur Neck or Lumbar Spine in Older Adults:.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db93.htm (accessed July 11, 2014).