Genetic Research Into Racial Health Disparities Is Important, Should Be Viewed Critically, Opinion Piece Says
While it "is worth pursuing" research on genetic differences among races to explain "troubling" racial health disparities, it is important to give any race-genetics finding "a tough second look," Sally Lehrman, a health and science reporter for Scientific American, writes in a Boston Globe opinion piece. At this point, "claims about race and medical genetics remain disturbingly fuzzy," in part because it is difficult to define what is meant by genetics and race, Lehrman writes. She adds, "Even if we think we can agree on various groupings called races, we should understand the limits of how well they can help define health differences." With "a new medical enterprise focused on biological difference," the "onus" is on the public to "confront" the idea of race and "understand the nature of the conversation," Lehrman writes. She concludes that "education, skepticism and awareness" are "powerful weapons against poorly developed claims about biology and race" and that "we ... should ask" what researchers mean by race and how they concluded that the connection between race and genetics was an important finding (Lehrman, Boston Globe, 4/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.