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March 7, 1986

Race, Ethnic Group, and Disease

Author Affiliations

Stanford University Medical Center Stanford, Calif

JAMA. 1986;255(9):1139. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370090060017

To the Editor.—  In a recent letter to the editor, the propriety of racial or ethnic identification of patients in published medical reports was questioned. Dr Negre1 states that mention of such racial or ethnic heritage is "litigious, improper, and useless."I am unaware of the ethnic homogeneity of the population in Finland whence Dr Negre writes, but in the melting pot of the United States with its peoples of such diverse ancestry, racial or ethnic identification may be a significant piece of medical data. Rather than the "rare cases" in which Dr Negre would condone such usage, there are many fairly common diseases with an ethnic bias (note: it is the disease that has the bias, not the investigator). Sarcoidosis, cystic fibrosis, malignant hypertension, senile osteoporosis, sickle cell disease, and congenital hip dislocation come to mind. Of course some quite rare anomalies such as Tay-Sachs disease or Ellis-van