Minority and Diaspora Health

The aftermath of  lead poisoning in Flint (MI; USA) and the Grenfell Tower fire (London, UK) that disproportionally affected minority individuals, underscore the need to address the factors which causes adverse health in minority populations particularly those in the diaspora. #Health Outcomes in a Foreign land (Springer, July 2017) discusses the genetic, non-genetic and epigenetic factors that contributes to health disparities in minorities.

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This book will challenge and inspire physicians and medical students, nurses, epidemiologist, public health professionals, biomedical research scientists, lawyers, economists and interested general readers.

Importance of health literacy

 

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  • Health literacy addresses communications that are related to health issues, such as the ability to understand medication prescription, guidelines for preventative health measures and screening and how to navigate the healthcare system including access information to health insurance plans, medicare and so forth……..
  • Limited health literacy disproportionally affect minority populations, low income families, elderly and migrants for whom English maybe second language.
  • Limited health literacy is significantly associated with higher risk of disease incidence and mortality rates seen in minority and low-income populations.
  • We need support programs in our local communities to help reduce the negative effects of limited health literacy.

The Wealth of Nations

Great blog and wealth and nationalism

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

The rapid pace of change has created a world filled with excitement and energy. At the same time, it’s created a world filled with anxiety and fear. At the intersection of both of these is hatred, distrust, disrespect, and every other force you can think of which can divide people. Black and white, male and female, western and eastern, old and young, liberal and conservative, gay and straight – pick a box, put yourself in it, and make good use of that box to separate yourself from everyone else who has somehow come to be “different”.

What made all of this happen? What drives everything to fly around at a pace which confuses and separates is the driving force of our time: technology. That one simple word is the savior and excuse all at the same time. But what is it, really?

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Fetal origins of adult diseases

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  1. David Barker made a landmark observation of an odd correlation between low birth weights and increased rates of heart disease in middle aged individuals Barker et al., 2010.
  1. We now know that adverse exposures to fetus and infants has long term effect on health and can increase susceptibility to various diseases such as CVDs, diabetes, kidney disease and different types of cancer.
  1. A growing fetus shares the environment (exposures) that the pregnant mother encounters such as food, drink, environmental and chemical pollutants and even her emotional wellbeing. Maternal malnutrition may disrupt the development of the fetus neurons and other organs and this has been demonstrated to have long term adverse health effect over the life span of an individual.
  1. Must encourage good nutrition, avoidance of toxic environment, less stress and prenatal checkups for pregnant women, in particular minority population.
  1. Let’s cherish our pregnant women!!!!!

Different kinds of the same

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Completion of the human genome sequence means that we know the arrangements of DNA bases and the genes which perform biological functions- but what is this telling us:

  1. All human beings of different racial and ethnic identify (African, Asian, Indian, Caucasian) share 99.5% sequence identity.
  1. The 0.5% sequence variation in different populations contributes to differences in skin color, hair and eye color, height, built, response to environmental  exposures, differences in prevalence of disease susceptibility or resistance or even differences in drug metabolism
  1. The sequence variations and environmental factors contributes to adaptive traits differences such than Africans have adopted dark skin pigmentation in high UV environments against UV radiation damage while at the same time making sufficient vitamin D (an essential nutrient). On the other hand, light skin pigmentation is adaptation in low UV environment yet is able to make sufficient Vitamin D. Therefore, a dark skinned African who migrates to low UV environments are not able to make sufficient Vitamin D especially doing winter months and thus must consume diets rich in Vitamin D (or use vitamin D supplements) to avoid susceptibility to certain diseases including cancer. Similarly light skin pigmented individuals who migrate to high UV environments must protect themselves against too much UV radiation or risk getting skin cancer.
  1. Information from the human genome categorically dispels any notion of racial hierarchy where one race is intellectually more superior to another race.

Acculturation, but to what extent……

Acculturation is the process whereby immigrants incorporate or adopt the cultural patterns such as values, behaviors, norms, attitudes and beliefs of the host country. Acculturation can significantly impact the health outcome for minorities, particularly for minorities whose primary language is different from the host country such as older migrants to the USA, UK or Australia for whom English is their second language. Acculturation can help navigate the healthcare system including obtaining information on diseases preventative measures such as screening, physical activity and access to other healthcare resources.

However, findings including report from the United Nations indicate that while sub-Saharan Africans have among the lowest incidence on obesity on the African continent, upon migration to industrialized countries sub-Saharan African migrants have increased incidence of obesity and obesity-related diseases (Healthy migrant). Similarly, Japanese migrants have the lowest incidence of colon and prostate cancer in their native countries; however 2nd and 3rd generation Japanese migrants to the USA and who adopt the Western dietary pattern have increased cancer risk comparable to their European-American counterpart.

Therefore migrants must maintain some elements of their traditional cultural practices, particularly healthy dietary habits, active lifestyle and healthy body weight.

Food-our strongest contact with the environment

People are still amazed that diet (foods) has anything to do diseases including cancer. When we consider our contact with the environment (air, water and food), the 1000’s of different food substances that we ingest clearly makes food our most intimate contact with the environment. This is so obvious yet ignored. In 1964, Acheson and Doll (Cancer and diet ) were among the first to publish an association between cancer and diet: We now know that animal fat (and also vegetable fat) is directly correlated with increases in cancer- breast, prostate and colon. Is it any wonder that Rich countries with their high fat intake has high cancer incidence, whereas poor countries with low fat intake has lower cancer risks.

Can we therefore reverse or improve our survival chances of cancer by adopting healthier diets- you bet!

Cancer causes and controversies

Cancer Causes and Controversies- Understanding Risk Reduction and Prevention” is a book that talks about the risks factors associated with cancer (e.g., diet, pollution, body weight, immune system); preventative measures (exercise, the role of healthy diet), the importance of cancer screening (early detection is a priority); some of the controversies surrounding cancer (GMO foods, dietary supplements, cellphone usage etc etc)….but ultimately God is our healer. This book is available at Amazon.comCancer preventable risk factors