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Thread: racial profiling useful in medecine.

  1. #1 racial profiling useful in medecine. 
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    Aug 2006
    I have a variety of questions to pose on the relevence of race when dealing with medical quandaries and am seeking opinion on this.


    researchers can use some genetic information to group individuals into clusters with medical relevance

    ... scientists have collected data about the genetic constitution of populations around the world in an effort to probe the link between ancestry and patterns of disease

    ... about 10 percent of the variation distinguishes continental populations

    ... Some polymorphisms do occur in genes, however; these can contribute to individual variation in traits and to genetic diseases. As scientists have sequenced the human genome (the full set of nuclear DNA), they have also identified millions of polymorphisms. The distribution of these polymorphisms across populations reflects the history of those populations and the effects of natural selection.

    ... The frequency of the FY*O allele, which corresponds to the absence of Fy antigen on red blood cells, is at or near fixation in most sub-Saharan African populations but is very rare outside Africa

    ... By looking at the varying frequencies of these polymorphisms, they were able to distinguish five different groups of people whose ancestors were typically isolated by oceans, deserts or mountains: sub-Saharan Africans; Europeans and Asians west of the Himalayas; East Asians; inhabitants of New Guinea and Melanesia; and Native Americans. They were also able to identify subgroups within each region that usually corresponded with each member's self-reported ethnicity.

    ... West Africans generally have polymorphism frequencies that can be distinguished from those of Europeans, Asians and Native Americans

    ... Several of the polymorphisms that differ in frequency from group to group have specific effects on health

    ... In these examples--and others like them--a polymorphism has a relatively large effect in a given disease

    # Neil Risch's Genome Biology article

    Neil Risch of Stanford University, a leader in the field of genetics, contends that race is helpful for understanding ethnic differences in disease and responses to disease.

    His position was prompted by an editorial last year in the New England Journal of Medicine asserting that "'race' is biologically meaningless," and one in Nature Genetics warning of the "confusion and potential harmful effects of using 'race' as a variable in medical research."

    1. In large part, the controversy stems from advances in DNA research streaming from the Human Genome Project -- and trying to reconcile the fact that the pattern of DNA data differs among ethnic groups.
    2. All humans have the bulk of their genetic heritage in common and possess the same set of genes.
    3. But because of mutations -- or changes in DNA -- each gene comes in slightly different versions, and some of them are more common in one ethnic group than another.
    4. These genetic differences often have medical significance -- since some occur among genes that affect susceptibility to disease and the response to drugs.
    5. For example, a mutation that causes hemochromatosis, a disorder of iron metabolism, is rare or absent among Indians and Chinese, but occurs in 7.5 percent of Swedes. Differences involving susceptibility to sickle cell anemia and lactose intolerance have been noted among ethnic groups and races.

    Risch points out that many studies have shown that these differences cluster into five major groups, which are simply the world's major continental areas and the people who once bred in them in isolation -- sub-Saharan Africans; Caucasians, including people from Europe, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East; Asians; Pacific Islanders and native Americans (



  3. #2  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaCarter
    no race is not relevent in medicine.
    Please stop resurrecting ancient threads, it creates confusion.

    Risk factors are a big part of medicine. Some risk factors are dependent on race. Thus race is relevant to medicine. Until such time as we can cheaply and quickly genotype every new patient, and thus determine more individualized risks rather than having to work stochastically, race and other broad traits will continue to be relevant.

    Since the OP is probably not coming back for his answer, I am locking this thread.


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