More Evidence That Racism and Discrimination Can Negatively Impact Health of African Americans

A study led by researchers at the University of Florida provides further evidence that discrimination faced by African American can have a major impact on their health. The researchers were able to identify associations with blood pressure and a new class of genes that previously had been associated with psychosocial distress and mood disorders. The authors suggest genetic variants that predispose some people to depression, anxiety, or suicide might also make them more sensitive to the effects of discrimination and lead to higher blood pressure.

The authors found that African Americans  who experienced racism or discrimination by family members or close friends were even more likely to have their health impacted negatively than African Americans who experienced racism by people they did not know.

Connie Mulligan, a professor of anthropology at the University of Florida and a co-author of the study, said that “we’re quick to say that racial disparities in disease are due to poverty or access to good healthcare. Or that there might be a genetic basis. Our research suggests it’s even more complicated.”

The study, “Genetic Loci and Novel Discrimination Measures Associated with Blood Pressure Variation in African Americans Living in Tallahassee,” was published online at PLOS One. It may be viewed here.


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