W2 Reflection: Cystic Fibrosis in Caucasians

The relationships between race, genetics, and health is complex but all three factors can help explain incidents of illness. Genetics is an inevitable part of every single human on this Earth. We inherit genes from our parents and at this time, no one can change/prevent ill-bearing genes from being passed down generations. According to the lecture, in the case of the Pima Indianas, 4  major genetic events happened, leading to a major illnes (diabetes) being linked to a certain race. Natural selecton allowed individuals with a genetic mutation to reproduce more passing the mutation to their children. Genetic limited was limited due to the fact the Pima people lived in a tight-knit population. Gene flow was then allowed to be passed down to the current day individuals, with the majority having the mutation. These genetics events cause ethnic groups to be linked to certain diseases. Health is also a factor that can lead to ethnic linked illnesses. Typically ethnic groups tend to follow the same patterns as previous generations. Diet, lifestyle choices, etc. are just a few examples of health related choices that ethnic groups tend to partake in, generally passing the same choices down to their children.

cystic fibrosis

I wanted to study the incidence of cystic fibrosis and which ethnic group it affected the most. I found that Caucasians have the highest incidence of inheriting the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. According to Kids Health,  “In the United States today about 1 of every 3,600 Caucasian children is born with CF. This compares with 1 of every 17,000 African Americans and only 1 of every 90,000 Asian Americans.” Researchers have yet to discover the exact gene that causes CF and currently there are 1,400 genes that have been linked to CF.  Above I have attached a graph that depicts the ratios the prevalence of CF of different ethnic groups. It’s hard to say at this point why Caucasians have higher incidents of CF. But, with continued research scientists may be able to link health related issues that can be a contributor to the likeliness of inheriting CF.


“Cystic Fibrosis” Kids Health, accessed on May 28, 2015. http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/digestive/cf.html#



2 thoughts on “W2 Reflection: Cystic Fibrosis in Caucasians

  1. Hi Jordan,
    I really liked your explanation of how certain genetic factors passed on from generation to generation through natural selection give certain people advantages when discussing disease. I did not consider the aspect of natural selection when writing my post, but I did consider family history when discussing genetics. We chose similar lifestyle choices that lead to health related problems, but you called them ethnic groups while I considered it more as culture. I would consider an ethnic group to be more about region of origin and a culture more about region of habitation. I think lifestyle choices such as diet and activity levels are more of a cultural thing than an ethnic thing. There can be health problems associated with certain ethnic groups in one culture that are different from health problems among the same ethnic group in another culture.
    Based on my definition of cultural health problems I would say it is more useful to use cultural categories than racial categories when talking about health disparities. It may be difficult to define these cultural categories but once defined I believe that they would better explain health disparities. Race would be part of the cultural definition, but the definition would extend further to provide a better, more accurate way to study these disparities.

  2. I think you make a great point about the differences in ethnicity and the relatedness of that to health. Because people of the same ethnicity tend to follow the same patterns of lifestyle choices, eating habits and other aspects of health in general. I also thought you made good use of an example from our material this week with the Pima Indians and how their naturally selected genetic difference effects them now that it is no longer a necessary benefit to conserve glucose the way their bodies do. I’m not sure how useful categorizing by race is for clinical studies. It seems to me it may be important for certain diseases that are far more prevalent in one ethnic group or another, but I think generally speaking it should not be emphasized as a rule. I think a good way to talk about radicalized health disparities is to tone down that aspect as much as possible. It is good to mention and something we should remain aware of, but I think it is best to leave that aside and focus on a group simply as people who are underserved in our population. Perhaps that is a naïve way to approach fixing our health disparities but I like to think that all people should be made equal and not single out any group or person based on the racial aspect alone.

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