Per a classmate’s previous post I decided to try to use stumbleupon to find interesting material about race and I came across this article:
This article describes a medical study that was done using 629 adults that were either black or white. The research links psychological stressors from discrimination to the presence of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance in the immune system which can cause problems such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
I find that the article brings up an interesting way of thinking about the health differences in races. In class, we all agree that race is socially constructed; however, when you read about medical findings in the news, statistics tend to look something like these statistics from the US department of health and human services-office of minority health website:
“In 2007, African American men were 30% more likely to die from heart disease, as compared to non-Hispanic white men.”
Or “African Americans are 1.5 times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to have high blood pressure”
Medical statistics in news tend to follow a pattern of assigning diseases to racial or ethnic group. However, with the thought of race as socially constructed what explains these differences?
Of course it’s possible that some differences can be attributed to genetics, such as the example Prof. Pok mentioned in class about the commonality of lactose-intolerance in Asians, (and other ethnic groups such as Ashkenazi Jews). Some of these differences could probably be also attributed to differences in availability of healthcare, or economic standing. But, as the article suggests, another reason to consider may be that stress due to discrimination is causing some differences. Or in fact, that discrimination, especially if institutionalized or wide spread; can have effects on the health of individuals.
I think it would be interesting to see this research better conducted on a wider scale. The research mentioned in this article only dealt with people who consider themselves either black or white, but it would be interesting to see the same research done across different races, and how the effects are different across races. In the article they mention that they did not find a correlation between discrimination and these health problems within the white people in the sample. This is probably due to the fact that white race is the majority in the United States, and therefore these participants are less likely to experience institutionalized discrimination.