As a recovering bench scientist, I am aware that groupings by race show less inter-group variability genetically than inter-personal differences within the population at large. Basically it means we are all the same. Race science has been debunked since World War II although there is a group of avid scientists that got the memo but either aren't reading it or have too much to lose if they did.
I have read about different rates of hypertension in black cohorts for example but we aren't offering meaningful biologic causes--and why do these differences disappear in African countries? It would appear we have home grown factors here that bear examination. Instead of creating arbitrary cohorts based solely on "race" shouldn't we ask if oxidative stress differences might be attributed to other social and political factors? How is this possible if we rely on underpowered check-box mentality towards race?
The centuries-old belief in racial differences in physiology has continued to mask the brutal effects of discrimination and structural inequities, instead placing blame on individuals and their communities for statistically poor health outcomes.
Rather than conceptualizing race as a risk factor that predicts disease or disability because of a fixed susceptibility conceived on shaky grounds centuries ago, we would do better to understand race as a proxy for bias, disadvantage and ill treatment.
The poor health outcomes of black people, the targets of discrimination over hundreds of years and numerous generations, may be a harbinger for the future health of an increasingly diverse and unequal America.--Linda Villarosa, Myths about physical racial differences wee used to justify slavery--and are still believed by doctors today--The 1619 Project New York Times Magazine
As an analyst I either need the social construct you seek to measure or I need the actual biologic entity you seek to evaluate--just collecting race is useless. I can do a little bit if we capture ancestry as we anticipate genetic drift to be associated with geographical origins but again, in the absence of a well-formulated question or hypothesis it isn't as relevant as you might think.
A recent article in JAMA Oncology wields race into a surprisingly quotidian narrative. The argument seems to be we need to improve recruitment of minorities into clinical trials but falls apart when there isn't really a compelling data infrastructure for yielding meaningful insights if this goal was achieved.
Are we measuring the right things or just data mining for signals?
For trials that did report on race, there were notable disparities in the makeup of participants. White patients accounted for 76% of study participants, while Asian patients accounted for 18%.
But black patients made up just 3% of participants in clinical trials for approved cancer drugs during that time, and Hispanic patients accounted for just 6%.
The proportion of black and Hispanic patients in cancer trials did improve somewhat during the decade the study examined, though not considerably--STAT--MEGAN THIELKING
Disparity of Race Reporting and Representation in Clinical Trials Leading to Cancer Drug Approvals From 2008 to 2018--link to article
If equally important, we need to be having those discussions and selecting additional variables to capture these factors and include them in analyses.
One final thought, the elephant in the room is the lack of upstream research and funding into the multi-pronged causative factors of cancer. The research describes water toxicity, poor air quality, stress in general, inadequate nutrition, low education, access to care, inadequate livable housing, influence of agri-business, and a myriad of societal and economic drivers of low health. How would these 4 racial groups rank on exposure to these known social correlates of health and disease?
Is this an opportunity for medical intervention or societal and political reform as prevention?
Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart--Henry Clay