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Race and disease

September 15, 2003

Regarding "The Race Factor" (Sept. 8): Apparently it is true that racial genetic differences are not confined to a few differences of external appearance, such as skin color. This has been known or suspected for far longer than the recent research shows. But the story focused almost entirely on diseases to which nonwhites are more prone than whites, creating the impression that there are no or few diseases to which whites are genetically more prone.

It reinforces this by tying the differences to "skin color" and "complexion," as if being of any nonwhite race meant having a set of genes with a systematic, characteristic tendency, or an "essence," such as generally being more prone to disease.

The concepts of race and systematic racial differences do not require that the differences all go in the same direction. Race A may have positive trait X and negative trait Y, while race B has the opposite or something else.

William F. Magaletta

La Puente

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