race

RECENT POSTS

Report Shows Stark Care Disparities, More Amputations Among Black Diabetics

Dartmouth Atlas Project

Dartmouth Atlas Project

Consider this alarming statistic: The rate of diabetes-related amputations is nearly three times higher among blacks compared to other Medicare beneficiaries.

This, according to a new report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project, located at the Dartmouth Institute of Health Care Policy and Clinical Practice. This is the influential consortium that issues eye-popping reports detailing often painfully unfair regional and ethnic variations in medical care. Here are some of the findings from the report, “Variation in the Care of Surgical Conditions: Diabetes and Peripheral Arterial Disease” released today:

•Amputation rates vary fivefold across U.S. regions among all Medicare patients with diabetes and peripheral artery disease.

•Amputation rates in the rural Southeast, particularly among black patients, are significantly higher than other regions of the country. (Think Mississippi.)

•The amputation rate for black patients is seven times higher in some regions than others

•There is an eightfold difference across regions among blacks in the likelihood that they undergo invasive surgery to increase circulation in the lower legs. In a news conference announcing the report, Marshall Chin, MD, a leading expert on racial and ethnic disparities in health care and a professor at the University of Chicago called these types of diabetes-related amputations “entirely preventable.” “In some ways,” Chin said, “these disparities are hidden unless we look for them.” And here’s more from the Dartmouth news release:

There are significant racial and regional disparities in the care of patients with diabetes. According to a new report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project, blacks are less likely to get routine preventive care than other patients and three times more likely to lose a leg to amputation, a devastating complication of diabetes and circulatory problems…

Amputation rates vary fivefold across U.S. regions among all Medicare patients with diabetes and peripheral artery disease (PAD), the report found. Amputation rates in the rural Southeast, particularly among black patients, are significantly higher than other regions of the country. Furthermore, the amputation rate for black patients is seven times higher in some regions than others and there is an eightfold difference across regions among blacks in the likelihood that they undergo invasive surgery to increase circulation in the lower legs. Continue reading

Fiery Debate Over New Book’s Views On Genes And Race

DNA
Oof. Berkeley biologist and oft-outspoken blogger Michael Eisen writes perhaps the most vehement book review by a scientist I’ve ever read here, in his verbal firebombing of “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.

The new book, written by longtime New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, had already kicked up controversy. Last week, the Huffington Post ran his defense against three separate critics, in which he counter-attacked “the social science position that there is no biological basis to race.”

This latest offensive seems all the more powerful because it comes from a lab-type scientist, who accuses Wade of veering into “racist claptrap.” And it seems all the more noteworthy because Eisen is so persuasive when he talks about the limits of what science now knows, and the verboten storytelling territory beyond:

In making the leap from the broad to the specific – from signature of natural selection in the human genome to explanations of the industrial revolution, Jewish Nobel Prizes and political turmoil in Africa and the Middle East – Wade tries to paint himself as a courageous scholar, going places with modern evolutionary biology that scientists WILL not go. But the truth is that scientists don’t go there, not because we are afraid to, but because we CAN’T. The data we have before us simply do not allow us to reconstruct human evolutionary history in this way. Continue reading

Lurching Toward Diabetes: What To Do Before The Sugar Hits

This Friday, the story and legacy of sweetness comes to the stage.

The new one-woman show Sugar, starring Robbie McCauley, breathes life into the sugar trade, slavery, racism and McCauley’s own struggle with diabetes.

Diabetes 101

In fact, a colloquial name for diabetes is “sugar”—appropriate, as the disease is characterized by having high levels of sugar in your blood.  Nowadays, diabetes often goes hand-in-hand with the word epidemic: 25.8 million Americans are diabetics — about 1 in 8 people (1 in 4 for those 65 or older).

McCauley suffers from the less common form, Type 1 diabetes, which accounts for about 5% of all cases. Her body produces little or no insulin (the hormone that enables sugar in the blood to enter the cells which, in turn, use it for energy). The majority of diabetics in America suffer from Type 2 diabetes, which is when your body doesn’t respond correctly to insulin (called insulin resistance) or doesn’t produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes disproportionately affects African-Americans, Continue reading

When Your Hair Relaxer Is Toxic

There’s a thoughtful roundup on Our Bodies Our Blog about the dangers of hair products commonly used by black women, and how the mainstream media hasn’t fully covered the story. Read the report by Kat Friedrich and reconsider your beauty regimen:

The ingredients of hair relaxers, which many black women use to straighten their curls, are anything but relaxing. Almost all of the samples of currently available hair relaxers tested by Environmental Working Group (EWG) were ranked highly toxic, although limited information was available. Allergic reactions, hormone disruption, immune system toxicity and organ toxicity were four of the main risks.

In contrast, hair straighteners, which are more commonly used by white women, have generally been considered to be relatively safer. EWG’s website shows most of these products are medium-risk with the highest concerns being allergic reactions, immune toxicity and hormone disruption. These risks are similar to those of the hair polishers which are used by women of color. Continue reading