How to apply ancestry to disease research (the right way).

Polymorphisms in the genome play a large role in disease risks in different human populations. However, it is debatable how significant these polymorphisms are, and believing that these polymorhpisms are confined to only certain populations can be problematic.
An image demonstrating what a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) looks like in the genome
A photo taken on March 30, 1972 at the Black Community Survival Conference. The discovery of the prevalence of sickle-cell anemia in African-Americans has lead to great waves of activism for researching the disease, increased screening for the disease, and an ultimate decrease in the deaths due to the disease.
Ashknenazi Jews have been a major target population of scientific studies regarding ancestry and disease.
Genetic screening and counseling can have extremely positive benefits for couples deciding on having children. However, genetic screening services such as Dor Yeshorim has caused couples to completely separate upon being told they are at risk for having a child with a disease.
Skin cancer, often considered to be a “white people disorder,” or a disorder constricted to those with lighter skin, actually reaches lethal stages at higher rates in dark skinned people of color than it does in people of European descent.
Although sickle-cell anemia is prevalent in African-Americans, this doesn’t mean it is constricted to African-Americans. The condition is prevalent in widespread areas, and is correlated with the presence of malaria.

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Abraham Fetin

Abraham Fetin

A Cultural and Biological Anthropology student based in the Washington, D.C. area