Medical Monday

Thyroid disease risk varies among blacks, Asians, whites

An analysis that included active military personnel finds that the rate of the thyroid disorder Graves disease is more common among blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders compared with whites, according to a study in the April 16 issue of JAMA.

Donald S. A. McLeod, F.R.A.C.P., M.P.H., of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland, Australia and colleagues studied all U.S. active duty military, ages 20 to 54 years, from January 1997 to December 2011 to determine the rate of Graves disease and Hashimoto thyroiditis (a progressive autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland) by race/ethnicity. Cases were identified from data in the Defense Medical Surveillance System, which maintains comprehensive records of inpatient and outpatient medical diagnoses among all active-duty military personnel. The relationship between Graves disease and race/ethnicity has previously not been known.

During the study period there were 1,378 cases of Graves disease in women and 1,388 cases in men and 758 cases of Hashimoto thyroiditis in women and 548 cases in men. Compared with whites, the incident rates for Graves disease was significantly higher among blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders. In contrast, Hashimoto thyroiditis incidence was highest in whites and lowest in blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders.

The authors write that the differences in incidence by race/ethnicity found in this study may be due to different environmental exposures, genetics, or a combination of both.

Source: Science Daily

Michelle Obama’s mother said WHAT?!

Michelle Obama’s mom says she was wary of ‘biracial’ Barack, but glad he wasn’t ‘completely white’

An interview Michelle Obama’s mother gave during the 2004 Chicago Senate has resurfaced thanks to a new book about the first lady, and it brings new attention to Marion Robinson‘s misgivings about her daughter’s marriage to the biracial Barack Obama.

Robinson, now 77, said she was wary about her daughter marrying Obama, who had a black father and white mom, but it could have been worse.

“That didn’t concern me as much as had he been completely white,” she said during the interview with WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight,” which was unearthed by Michelle Obama biographer Peter Slevin .

“I guess that I worry about races mixing because of the difficulty, not for, so much for prejudice or anything,” she added. “It’s just very hard.”

Slevin wrote that Obama’s interracial background wasn’t enough to make Robinson oppose the marriage, according to the Daily News.

“Marian, no pushover, was favorably impressed with Barack.” he wrote.

Robinson famously moved in with the first family when they moved into the White House in 2008.

The book, “Michelle Obama: A Life,” is due to hit bookstores April 7.

Multiracial Miss Japan

Half-Black woman named Miss Japan—stirs reaction

Apparently Black is also beautiful in Japan, despite the nation’s reputation for a lack of diversity.

Ariana Miyamoto, daughter of a Japanese mother and African-American father, recently became the first multiracial contestant to be crowned Miss Universe Japan, according to news reports. The former Miss Nagasaki will represent Japan in the 2015 Miss Universe pageant.

Local media describe the 20-year-old as a “saishoku kenbi,” a woman blessed with both intelligence and beauty. She holds a fifth-degree mastery of Japanese calligraphy, according to

But there have been mixed reactions to a “hāfu,” the Japanese word used to refer to half-Japanese individuals, representing the country.

“The selection of Ariana Miyamoto as this year’s Miss Universe Japan is a huge step forward in expanding the definition of what it means to be Japanese,” Megumi Nishikura, filmmaker and co-director of the film “Hafu: The Mixed-Race Experience in Japan,” told NBC News. “The controversy that has erupted over her selection is a great opportunity for us Japanese to examine how far we have come from our self-perpetuated myth of homogeneity while at the same time it shows us how much further we have to go.”

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has reported that one in 49 babies born in Japan today are born into families with one non-Japanese parent, according to “Hafu.”

While the nation remains a center of global tourism and trade, it remains skeptical of diversity and actually prides itself on its homogeneity—more than 98 percent of the population comprise Japanese nationals, according to As such, it has a long and complicated history of racism.

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Medical Monday

CDC: Cancer Incidence and Survival Improve; Racial Disparities Persist


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New Children’s Story

Attention Awesome Kids! This Is the Princess Story for You.


When Princess Gloria Cheng Epstein Takahara de la Garza Champion encounters a dragon trying to burn down her castle in filmmaker and writer Greg Pak’s new children’s picture book, “The Princess Who Saved Herself,” she, understandably, is frightened. Rather than wait for her knight in shining armor, she catches the dragon by the tail, ties him to a tree, scolds him – making him cry. He apologized, she graciously accepts, and now they’re friends.

Based on a song by singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, and illustrated by artist Takeshi Miyazawa, “The Princess Who Saved Herself,” is, according to Pak, “exploding the princess myth for a new generation of awesome kids.”

"The Princess Who Saved Herself" follows the adventures of multiracial Princess Gloria Cheng Epstein Takahara de la Garza Champion. The Princess Who Saved Herself

Images from the children’s picture book, “The Princess Who Saved Herself,” written by filmmaker and writer Greg Pak, based on the song by singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, and illustrated by artist Takeshi Miyazawa.

“The beautiful thing that pulled me into Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Princess Who Saved Herself’ song is that its heroine is this awesome, proactive kid who tackles every challenge with fearlessness and aplomb — not hesitating to kick a dragon’s butt if necessary,” Pak told NBC News. “But ultimately, she deals with every problem with compassion.”

In addition to saving herself from the usual storybook challenges like the dragon with terrible breath and an evil hipster queen who only likes classical guitar, this princess is also notable for her multiracial and multiethnic heritage.

(L-R) Filmmaker/writer Greg Pak and singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, the creators of “The Princess Who Saved Herself." Courtesy Greg Pak

(L-R) Filmmaker and writer Greg Pak and singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, the creative duo behind “Code Monkey Save World” and “The Princess Who Saved Herself.”

“She’s an awesome, scrappy, fun, everyday kid who happens to be multiracial,” said Pak, who is also multiracial and for whom characters of color meant a lot, “And that’s still a rarity in children’s books and American pop culture in general, so it was nice to have the chance to ‘cast’ the book the way we did.”

Currently in digital format only, this book was born of a stretch goal for an earlier Kickstarter campaign to create a graphic novel, “Code Monkey Save World.” After Pak and Coulton’s new Kickstarter campaign to bring the book to physical form reached its goal in only six hours, Pak and Coulton announced their first stretch goal to create a digital “Princess Who Saved Herself Activity Book.”

Source: NBC

Cover of children’s picture book, “The Princess Who Saved Herself,” written by filmmaker and writer Greg Pak, based on the song by singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, and illustrated by artist Takeshi Miyazawa. The




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Tony Robinson emphasized Biracial Background

Family of Tony Robinson emphasize his bi-racial background

Family of 19-year-old Tony Robinson hold a press conference in Madison on Monday March 9, 2015. (Photo from: YouTube).

Family of 19-year-old Tony Robinson hold a press conference in Madison on Monday March 9, 2015. (Photo from: YouTube).

MADISON, WI –Tony Robinson’s death has been portrayed nationally as a black man killed by a white Madison police officer.

But at a news conference Monday, his family kept emphasizing that the 19-year-old Robinson was the bi-racial product of a black father and a white mother — and he embraced the identity of a mixed race.

Robinson was unarmed on Friday night when Madison officer Matt Kenny responded, after reports that the teen jumped in and out of traffic and hit someone. Police said Robinson attacked the officer, and Kenny shot him to death.

Monday, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval apologized to Robinson’s family and did not admit wrongdoing.

The incident has further exposed a racial divide in a liberal city that celebrates a progressive history. African-Americans make up about 7 percent of Madison’s population, but they’re on the short end of long gaps in student test scores, graduation rates, and arrests and incarcerations.

Congressman Mark Pocan lives just a few blocks from Williamson Street, where the shooting took place. Pocan notes that Madison’s black men get arrested at 8 times the rate of whites — and he hopes the tragedy will create an opportunity for the community to grow “stronger together.”

Peaceful protests continue, including a State Capitol rally Monday in which about 1,500 people showed up — many of them students leaving school.

The state Justice Department continues to investigate the shooting.

Source:  Wheeler News Service

Medical Monday

Racial Differences May Necessarily Affect Eye Care

Written by
Jonathan Temte MD, MS, PhD
 We are confronted with diversity on a daily basis in the practice of medicine. Patients present for evaluation of symptoms or for preventive care. The health professional takes in myriad strands of information in routine decision-making. In a broader sense, this is encompassed in the concept of personalized medicine: customized interventions based on one’s genetic makeup and/or lifestyle choices. Personalized medicine has now become sufficiently mainstream to be featured in the recent State of the Union address. Two recent papers highlight this concept for the eye care professional.1-2


Let’s agree to fix this.

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