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The Debate: Genetics And Health Disparities

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Scientists, have been in controversial discussions about the associations between genetics and race in regards to the prevalence, and outcomes of human disease.

Research shows that biological factors contribute to health disparities, but also genes may play a part in how common diseases can manifest themselves. A geneticist is a doctor who studies genes and disease. Although their interest may vary, the geneticist primarily plans and conducts research on genes and their expression.

When it comes to health, most people hold a strong belief that most health conditions are influenced by genetics but the debate undertakes on whether those same conditions are influenced by biological and social factors such as age, sex, education, employment, housing and nutrition. All which are key components to the challenges we face with a world-wide gap of health disparities and public health outcomes.

Health disparities are a direct result of when socioeconomic status determines a person’s behavior, living circumstances, healthcare access, education, housing, etc., furthermore these specific determinants affect that person's health for better or worse.

Although genes may pre-dispose a person to a specific disease, it is unclear how genetic factors could contribute to health inequalities. But what is clear is that an understanding of health inequalities, their root cause and history is vital to education, prevention and eradication.

Current models of education and policy ignore the contribution of genetics, and further perpetuate the debate of whether genetics play a part in an injustice that hardly has anything to do with genes. The United States has dramatically higher health-care prices than other advanced economies, due in part to the disengagement of social determinants of health as a contribution to disease outcome.

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