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Geneticizing Disease: Implications for Racial Health Disparities

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Publication Date: January 2008

Publisher(s): Center for American Progress

Author(s): Jamie D. Brooks; Meredith L. King

Funder(s): Center for American Progress

Funder(s): Center for American Progress

Topic:

Type: Report

Abstract:

Today it is almost impossible to pick up a newspaper or open a Web browser without finding an article that links a specific gene to a certain medical condition. In fact, a simple Google search of “gene linked” in November last year pulled up hits with genes linked to depression risk, restless leg syndrome, autism, breast cancer, childhood asthma, and type 1 diabetes in children. This is only on the first page of results from a total of 30,600,000 hits.

Increasingly, genes are being linked in the mainstream press, on the Web and also in prestigious medical journals not only to medical conditions but also to behavioral conditions such as narcissism, aggressiveness, and in some instances to voting behavior. Linking disease to specific genes is becoming progressively more common among the American public, too. The increasing perception is that an individual’s genes are the main cause of disease.