W2 Reflection: Africans and their relation to Sickle Cell Anemia

 

Sickle cell anemia is more prevalent in African and African Americans because having one allele was crucial for survival in Africa especially south of the Sahara desert. This is one main reason why sickle cell anemia does not present itself in other races is because this mutation occurred to protect the population of South Africa. This mutation spread throughout this region over generations. Giving the individuals that possessed one copy of the gene a resistance to malaria. Thus giving the population contain one gene a better chance at survival and becoming common in that region. So even though this seems race related it is not, it is geographically related. Now that is explained to look at the disease sickle cell anemia itself, it is when both parents pass on a sickle cell gene to a child. To do this the obvious thing is that the parents have to contain the gene and to contain the gene they would have to be or have ancestors from South Africa. Most people in and from that region are black and that is why the disease is associated with black individuals. Then if both parents do pass on a sickle cell gene instead of it being a good thing for fighting malaria it is a bad thing for everyday life. It then takes an evolutionary adaptation that is beneficial and turns it into a disease when two genes are present. What this does is whenever someone that has sickle cell anemia exerts themselves too much they run the risk of having a sickle cell emergency. This is when all the red blood cells twist and this causes great pain to the individual along with making it hard to breath. This is because the red blood cells are the ones that carry the oxygen throughout the body. Also when the blood cells sickle they clog up veins and arteries in the body, this is what causes a lot of the pain during these episodes. So even though this disease seems racially related on the surface it is related geographically because of the problem with malaria that made this mutation important.

 

Work Citied

 

“Modern Theories of Evolution: Natural Selection.” Modern Theories of Evolution: Natural Selection. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://anthro.palomar.edu/synthetic/synth_4.htm.

2 thoughts on “W2 Reflection: Africans and their relation to Sickle Cell Anemia

  1. Hello,
    Although, true enough, this disease is the result of an environmental adaptation I do not think that I would totally eliminate racial and sociocultural implications. Thinking about transmission mechanisms of the Sickle Celle gene, it is necessary to have two copies of the sickle cell gene/trait from each parent, in order to diagnosed with full-blown Sickle Cell Anemia. Now, from that conclusion I notice a couple of sociocultural implications. Two people must mate and reproduce and judging by the prevalence of the disease most likely will be of African descent to possess a sickle cell gene. This moves me to consider the likelihood of people of African descent mating within or outside of their communities I it is likely that they will date within their community then it is also more likely that two people with Sickle Cell genes will unite. I also want to consider the idea of health education or lack of health education. If a couple mates without receiving testing for Sickle Cell the run the risk of producing a baby with Sickle Cell. In that situation you may have to consider the healthcare and resources allotted to marginalized people.
    Regards,
    Victoria

  2. You had many interesting points about sickle cell anemia in Africa. I didn’t know that originally this disease was beneficial to the people south of the Sahara through a mutation that fights against malaria. Throughout the years this mutation has lost almost all of its worth and is now a intensively treated disease. The downsides of sickle cell anemia definitely outweigh the upsides, which shows why it is now classified as a disease. You made a good point when you mentioned how sickle cell anemia should be associated more with geographic location rather than focusing on race. This is most likely because of the malaria being located in and around the Sahara region of Africa during the same time of sickle cell anemia coming into existence. I’d be interested to know if the sickle cell anemia mutation has changed at all in between the time of when it was beneficial and the disease as it is today. In the future sickle cell anemia may affect other races more evenly because it is spread from parent to child and doesn’t matter whether or not you are African American. Lastly, it should be considered that Africa does not receive as good of quality health care as other locations so sickle cell anemia may be more prevalent there.

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