Social determinants of health: — Epigenovix

There is a strong association between higher levels of social economic status (SES) and good health. Conversely, individuals of lower SES have increased exposure to stress, psychological distress and negative behavioral effects which in turn increases the risk for many diseases. Thus, SES differences among racial groups account for a substantial fraction of the disparities […]

via Social determinants of health: — Epigenovix

Social determinants of health:

  • There is a strong association between higher levels of social economic status (SES) and good health.
  • Conversely, individuals of lower SES have increased exposure to stress, psychological distress and negative behavioral effects which in turn increases the risk for social-determinants-health-diagram-85688364many diseases.
  • Thus, SES differences among racial groups account for a substantial fraction of the disparities in health among different ethnic and racial groups.
  • We need better schools, safer neighborhoods, access to quality health care, higher minimum wages in order to improve health for minority populations who are disproportionately affected by lower levels of SES.
  • (Excerpts from Health Outcomes in a Foreign Land- A role for epigenomic and environmental interaction/

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.


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



  • 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

in utero

  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


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

First blog post

Causes of cancer powerpoint

First blog about Bernard…………….

Hello blog world,

I am excited to be part of this fantastic informational website. I think this would be a great forum to discuss topics on cancer prevention and minority health, in particular disease disparities in the African diaspora. I will begin with a little information about myself: I am a cancer biologist with a PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and my research work focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms driving prostate cancer progression and the disease disparity. I am involved in mentoring research students from undergraduate to PhD candidates in various aspects of prostate cancer research. In addition to my research work, I am also involved in teaching medical, dental, pharmacology as well as graduate students in different aspects of biochemistry and Molecular Biology. What I find to be most fulfilling is the ability to translate my research work into public health through public and community education on the importance of cancer prevention. I am the proud author of a book entitled “Cancer Causes and Controversies- understanding risk reduction and prevention” (available on, and as it’s name implies describes the risk factors associated with common cancers and the role for writing this book is to educate the public on the measures we need to take to reduce our risk to cancer. I currently serve as an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Howard University and the Principal Investigator of a prostate cancer research laboratory and enjoy working in this environment whose mission fits perfectly with mine to do research, teach and educate in sciences that resonate with public health.

I am excited about the significant scientific breakthrough over the past century, particularly the recent completion of the human genome sequence which is helping us to unlock the complexities of environmental impact on gene expression and how small variations in the human genome among different racial/ethnic groups is providing insights into differences in disease susceptibility to drug metabolism which is driving this whole area of personalized medicine. At the same time we are uncovering the role of epigenetics as master regulator of gene expression clearly demonstrating an added layer in the complexities in gene regulation and providing additional insights into the molecular mechanisms associated with disease etiologies and progression.

This blog site will serve as an educational tool for cancer prevention topics and various aspects of minority/Diaspora health.


What is driving health disparities

Welcome to Epigenovix blog site. My intention for starting this blog is to use it as a forum to discuss health topics that are close to my heart. Mainly cancer and cancer/health disparities. I plan to discuss current scientific findings on these 2 topics focusing on the role epigenetic-environment interactions and disease risk.