Pulmonary Disease in the Middle East

In this weeks lecture, we discussed the relationship between race, genetics and health. The controversy is that there is no genetic way to identify race. Race is a term that we use to identify ourselves based on our culture and lifestyle. While genes are what determine our physical features; our skin color, hair color, heights etc. Our genetic makeup can be predetermining of our health. We can be born with a disease and it does not necessarily have to do with our race. An example used in our lecture is the Pima Indians from Arizona. There is a genetic mutation in their ancestry that allows them to process sugars and store fats to allow them to survive. This genetic mutation caused Type II Diabetes in these individuals. The gene was passed down generations, and even more dominant since Pima Indians married from within their groups. However, just because they are Pima Indians didn’t meant that they will have Type II diabetes. American Pima Indians had a much higher rate of diabetes than Mexican Pima Indians.

The ethnicity I identify with is Middle Eastern. While doing some research, I came to find out that, according to Nature Middle East, Emerging science in the Arab world, “ the region could have the highest incidence of pulmonary infections in the world.” Because of the environmental conditions, genetics and lifestyle that are prevalent to the Middle East, people living in that region are more prone to pulmonary disease (Nature Middle East, 2011). The Middle East has a great desert area, and allergens from the desert can contribute to these pulmonary diseases. Also, the lack of industrialization in some of these countries, allows for a lot of pollution in the air which can lead to illnesses such as asthma. Most of the diseases are a cause of environmental factors that are prevalent to that region.



Nature Middle East Emerging Science in the arab world. “Pulmonary diseases may be highest in the Middle East.” – News. http://www.natureasia.com/en/nmiddleeast/article/10.1038/nmiddleeast.2011.101 (accessed July 12, 2014).

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. James Conwell says:

    I think the fact that you discussed how genetics help predetermine health outcomes was important. Genetics offer an important predisposition for health conditions, and can be a great predictor of illness, especially in the case of genetic birth defects, or illnesses such as cystic fibrosis. I’m not sure I covered that point about genetics incredibly well in my post. However, I believe that environment may be a bit more important in the determination of health. If a person genetically has, or is genetically predisposed for asthma, and lives in an environment that has unclean air, such as a low socioeconomic status (SES) urban area, then they may have more difficulty breathing. However, if a person lives in a cleaner environment, then they may have their asthma under control, and have less frequent attacks. This example works for the differences between the American and Mexican Pima Indians. It stands to reason that the American Pima and Mexican Pima genetics are very similar; however it is plausible that the American Pima diet consists of sugar more so than the Mexican Pima Indians. The unhealthier environment of the American Pimas would account for the difference in Type II diabetes rates. I think environment and socioeconomic are important to consider when we talk about race, genetics and health.
    I believe that race has an important place in clinical trials. Very often in the United States, race is indicative of socioeconomic status, and can incorporate a group’s genetics. In terms of health determinants, those are two very important aspects. If one race’s population has genetics that would predispose them for an illness, and they live in an environment that is low SES, then there may be a higher incidence of that illness. It is also important to learn about which racial group may be more vulnerable to certain illnesses, so society can begin addressing those issues.
    I think when talking about a race’s health disparities, we shouldn’t inherently make it that race’s illness; instead it should be considered the product of an unfair society. Illness is very much related to a group’s SES, and much of can be blamed on a society where opportunities are not equal. We should instead start talking and addressing racialized health issues in society’s terms, so it becomes society’s problem, and we can begin working on it, as opposed to making it one racial group’s problem, and leaving it to the already disadvantaged and vulnerable group.

Leave a Reply