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Should Doctors Ignore Race? 

double helixJust one more way in which medical practice gets steadily more complicated: a New York Times op-ed piece poses the question, "Should Doctors Ignore Race?"

Once past the headline, the piece itself lays out of more complicated analysis. Some diseases are frequently thought of as linked to race. Hence sickle cell anemia is viewed as a disease that afflicts black people. But it's better understood as an adaptation to malaria, and is common across the Arabian Peninsula, India and sectors of the Mediterranean Basin.

Doctors who apply conventional wisdom — sickle cell is a black disease — are liable not to see the illness when it comes with a face that's not black. At the same time it's been proven over and over that race affects treatment for pain and other maladies, with disparate outcomes for disparate races.

The piece offers a quick walk-though on the complexities of matching a deeper understanding of the genetic factors in disease with the realities of treatment variations caused by racial stereotyping.

The article is by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, author of the recent book, "An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Disease."

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