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Racialized genetics and the study of complex diseases: the thrifty genotype revisited

Paradies, Yin C., Montoya, Michael J. and Fullerton, Stephanie M. (2007). Racialized genetics and the study of complex diseases: the thrifty genotype revisited. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine,50(2):203-227.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Racialized genetics and the study of complex diseases: the thrifty genotype revisited
Author Paradies, Yin C.
Montoya, Michael J.
Fullerton, Stephanie M.
Journal Name Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Publication Date 2007
Volume Number 50
Issue Number 2
ISSN 0031-5982   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 203
End Page 227
Total Pages 25
Place of Publication US
Publisher The Johns Hopkins University Press
Field of Research 2202 - History and Philosophy of Specific Fields
2203 - Philosophy
1103 - Clinical Sciences
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Current debate on the use of population genetic data for complex disease research is driven by the laudable goals of disease prevention and harm reduction for all, especially dispossessed, formerly enslaved, or colonized populations. This article examines one of the oldest gene-based theories of complex disease causation: the thrifty genotype hypothesis (THG). This hypothesis is emblematic of the way in which genetic: research into complex disease attracts a high investment of scientific resources while contributing little to our capacity to understand these diseases and perpetuating problematic conceptions of human variation. Although there are compelling reasons to regard the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus as a by-product of our biological incapacity to cope with modern affluent and sedentary lifestyles, there is at present no consistent evidence to suggest that minority populations are especially genetically susceptible. Nor is it clear why such genetic differences would be expected, given the original pan-species orientation of the TGH. The limitations inherent in current applications of the TGH demonstrate that genetic research into complex disease demands careful attention to key environmental, social, and genetic risk factors operating within and between groups, not the simplistic attribution of between-group differences to racialized genetics. A robust interdisciplinary approach to genetic epidemiological research is proposed.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/pbm.2007.0020   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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