Medical Concerns and Race

 

A debate is taking place on social media regarding medical concerns and the multiracial community. It is a life and death issue and should not be taken lightly. Some critics have stated that since race is a “social construct,” we are all the same biologically and there are no physical differences. Therefore, they believe, that any medical differences are non-existent and should not be studied further. They believe that the reason for not having racial classifications is that no human medical differences have been found.

Project RACE finds the critics short-sighted and their beliefs dangerous. Perhaps there are physical and/or neurological differences or maybe not. We just do not know, but that is not a reason to cancel medical studies and findings. It is not a reason to prematurely do away with racial categories, although there may be other reasons in other circumstances. We can look mostly at the area of the need for donor increase for life-saving bone marrow and the need for as close to a racial and ethnic match as possible. If there were no physical differences in these areas, why would race and ethnicity be important? Obviously, these include very specific requirements in the medical realm. We simply cannot act as if it doesn’t exist. Bone marrow matching by race and ethnicity is a critical life and death matter.

Tay-Sachs is a disease that affects mostly Jewish people. Sickle Cell Anemia is mainly found in African Americans. There are many more examples. Should we discount race as a factor in medicine? Absolutely not; we should be finding out more. We must take the high road and push for more information to be sought, unlike our critics.

It’s lovely to live in a world where you think there are no racial and/or ethnic differences and perhaps that is true, but the truth is we just don’t know—not enough work has been done. An article appeared in U. S. News and World Report by HealthDay Reporter Maureen Salamon on December 6, 2018 called “Breast Cancer Deadlier for Black Women, Despite Same Treatments, which was revealed by a new trial. They did adjust for lifestyle differences and found that some drugs were metabolized differently by racial groups. The article can be read here:

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2018-12-06/breast-cancer-deadlier-for-black-women-despite-same-treatments

And here is another plea; http://www.fox46charlotte.com/news/4-year-old-alameda-girl-diagnosed-with-rare-genetic-disorder-family-urging-donors-to-join-registry

We need more of these kinds of studies, not fewer. We need to enlarge the pool of multiracial donors for bone marrow, not act as though it’s not a problem. We have a long way to go to save lives. We can’t afford to turn away.

 

 

 

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