By Ishan Sen
1. Heart problems
With the growing list of cardiovascular problems around the world, the mounting risk of Black people falling victims to high blood pressure early in life is a topic of definite concern. Nearly 42 percent of Black men and more than 45 percent of Black women aged 20 and above have been diagnosed with distinctly higher blood pressure levels than their fair-skinned counterparts.
While a genetic cause seems to be the most probable reason behind this disproportion, the fact remains that high blood pressure significantly predisposes Blacks to other heart problems, kidney issues, and stroke. In fact, the number of Black Americans to have died of stroke has been found to be four times higher than the number of whites in the 35 to 54 age group.
2. Lung problems
Lung issues strike Blacks usually on three different fronts – asthma, sarcoidosis, and cancer. African Americans have been found to be three times more vulnerable to death from asthma as compared to white Americans. Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease resulting in lung scarring, has been found to affect Blacks a whopping 16 times more than whites.
The American Lung Association published a detailed report in 2005 that stated that African Americans are 50 percent more likely to suffer from lung cancer than white people, in spite of lower tobacco exposure. This is partly because of the demographic distribution of Blacks, as many reside near toxic waste dumps or factories that produce these wastes. The environmental factor coupled with potential genetic susceptibility lead to such high incidences of pulmonary problems in Black Americans.
3. Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is a completely hereditary disorder that has little to do with environment. Although it has been known for decades that sickle cell disease predominantly affects the dark-skinned, the answer to precisely why it does so continues to elude researchers and scientists.
Even with an estimated population of 65,000 to 80,000 Americans suffering from the disorder, the time, funding, and research attention devoted to sickle cell anemia are surprisingly lower than other genetic diseases. No wonder sickle cell disease continues to be rampant among African Americans of all classes.
The metabolic disorder that commonly presents with the triad of increased urination, increased thirst, and increased appetite have been proven to be 60 percent more common in Blacks than in fair-skinned people. Black people are 2.5 times more likely to have a limb amputated due to diabetes and almost 5.6 times more likely to acquire renal complications than other diabetics.
Evidence indicates that African Americans indeed have a genetic susceptibility to the disease. However, it is the lack of diabetes management and a general low standard of health care that makes diabetes so severe and prominent among them.