Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Race


This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife, and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group, continued to see mortality rates fall. This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases. Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. We comment on potential economic causes and consequences of this deterioration.

Concepts: Death, Mortality rate, United States, United Kingdom, Race, White American, White people, 21st century


 To estimate differences in annual income of physicians in the United States by race and sex adjusted for characteristics of physicians and practices.

Concepts: United States, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, Race, White American, Household income in the United States, European American, Indigenous peoples of the Americas


Racial disparities in health are well-documented and represent a significant public health concern in the US. Racism-related factors contribute to poorer health and higher mortality rates among Blacks compared to other racial groups. However, methods to measure racism and monitor its associations with health at the population-level have remained elusive. In this study, we investigated the utility of a previously developed Internet search-based proxy of area racism as a predictor of Black mortality rates. Area racism was the proportion of Google searches containing the “N-word” in 196 designated market areas (DMAs). Negative binomial regression models were specified taking into account individual age, sex, year of death, and Census region and adjusted to the 2000 US standard population to examine the association between area racism and Black mortality rates, which were derived from death certificates and mid-year population counts collated by the National Center for Health Statistics (2004-2009). DMAs characterized by a one standard deviation greater level of area racism were associated with an 8.2% increase in the all-cause Black mortality rate, equivalent to over 30,000 deaths annually. The magnitude of this effect was attenuated to 5.7% after adjustment for DMA-level demographic and Black socioeconomic covariates. A model controlling for the White mortality rate was used to further adjust for unmeasured confounders that influence mortality overall in a geographic area, and to examine Black-White disparities in the mortality rate. Area racism remained significantly associated with the all-cause Black mortality rate (mortality rate ratio = 1.036; 95% confidence interval = 1.015, 1.057; p = 0.001). Models further examining cause-specific Black mortality rates revealed significant associations with heart disease, cancer, and stroke. These findings are congruent with studies documenting the deleterious impact of racism on health among Blacks. Our study contributes to evidence that racism shapes patterns in mortality and generates racial disparities in health.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Death, Mortality rate, Demography, United States, Black people, Race, Miscegenation


Malignant mesothelioma is a neoplasm associated with occupational and environmental inhalation exposure to asbestos* fibers and other elongate mineral particles (EMPs) (1-3). Patients have a median survival of approximately 1 year from the time of diagnosis (1). The latency period from first causative exposure to malignant mesothelioma development typically ranges from 20 to 40 years but can be as long as 71 years (2,3). Hazardous occupational exposures to asbestos fibers and other EMPs have occurred in a variety of industrial operations, including mining and milling, manufacturing, shipbuilding and repair, and construction (3). Current exposures to commercial asbestos in the United States occur predominantly during maintenance operations and remediation of older buildings containing asbestos (3,4). To update information on malignant mesothelioma mortality (5), CDC analyzed annual multiple cause-of-death records(†) for 1999-2015, the most recent years for which complete data are available. During 1999-2015, a total of 45,221 deaths with malignant mesothelioma mentioned on the death certificate as the underlying or contributing cause of death were reported in the United States, increasing from 2,479 deaths in 1999 to 2,597 in 2015 (in the same time period the age-adjusted death rates(§) decreased from 13.96 per million in 1999 to 10.93 in 2015). Malignant mesothelioma deaths increased for persons aged ≥85 years, both sexes, persons of white, black, and Asian or Pacific Islander race, and all ethnic groups. Despite regulatory actions and the decline in use of asbestos the annual number of malignant mesothelioma deaths remains substantial. The continuing occurrence of malignant mesothelioma deaths underscores the need for maintaining measures to prevent exposure to asbestos fibers and other causative EMPs and for ongoing surveillance to monitor temporal trends.

Concepts: Cancer, Death, Demography, United States, Race, Mesothelioma, Asbestos, Pacific Islander American


Microscopic mites of the genus Demodex live within the hair follicles of mammals and are ubiquitous symbionts of humans, but little molecular work has been done to understand their genetic diversity or transmission. Here we sampled mite DNA from 70 human hosts of diverse geographic ancestries and analyzed 241 sequences from the mitochondrial genome of the species Demodex folliculorum. Phylogenetic analyses recovered multiple deep lineages including a globally distributed lineage common among hosts of European ancestry and three lineages that primarily include hosts of Asian, African, and Latin American ancestry. To a great extent, the ancestral geography of hosts predicted the lineages of mites found on them; 27% of the total molecular variance segregated according to the regional ancestries of hosts. We found that D. folliculorum populations are stable on an individual over the course of years and that some Asian and African American hosts maintain specific mite lineages over the course of years or generations outside their geographic region of birth or ancestry. D. folliculorum haplotypes were much more likely to be shared within families and between spouses than between unrelated individuals, indicating that transmission requires close contact. Dating analyses indicated that D. folliculorum origins may predate modern humans. Overall, D. folliculorum evolution reflects ancient human population divergences, is consistent with an out-of-Africa dispersal hypothesis, and presents an excellent model system for further understanding the history of human movement.

Concepts: Human, Mitochondrial DNA, Species, Population, Race, World population, Demodex, Demodex folliculorum


Humans in all societies form and participate in cooperative alliances. To successfully navigate an alliance-laced world, the human mind needs to detect new coalitions and alliances as they emerge, and predict which of many potential alliance categories are currently organizing an interaction. We propose that evolution has equipped the mind with cognitive machinery that is specialized for performing these functions: an alliance detection system. In this view, racial categories do not exist because skin color is perceptually salient; they are constructed and regulated by the alliance system in environments where race predicts social alliances and divisions. Early tests using adversarial alliances showed that the mind spontaneously detects which individuals are cooperating against a common enemy, implicitly assigning people to rival alliance categories based on patterns of cooperation and competition. But is social antagonism necessary to trigger the categorization of people by alliance-that is, do we cognitively link A and B into an alliance category only because they are jointly in conflict with C and D? We report new studies demonstrating that peaceful cooperation can trigger the detection of new coalitional alliances and make race fade in relevance. Alliances did not need to be marked by team colors or other perceptually salient cues. When race did not predict the ongoing alliance structure, behavioral cues about cooperative activities up-regulated categorization by coalition and down-regulated categorization by race, sometimes eliminating it. Alliance cues that sensitively regulated categorization by coalition and race had no effect on categorization by sex, eliminating many alternative explanations for the results. The results support the hypothesis that categorizing people by their race is a reversible product of a cognitive system specialized for detecting alliance categories and regulating their use. Common enemies are not necessary to erase important social boundaries; peaceful cooperation can have the same effect.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Cognitive science, Philosophy of mind, Mind, Thought, Race, Human skin color


We describe the thirteenth reported case of human infection with Gongylonema spp. in the United States and the first to be confirmed as Gongylonema pulchrum. The parasite described was isolated from the oral cavity of a resident of Williamsburg, Virginia. The identity of the parasite was verified through morphologic and genetic approaches, and provided the first genetic confirmation of a Gongylonema sp. in humans.

Concepts: United States, U.S. state, Race, Latin, Humid subtropical climate, Kentucky, Thomas Jefferson, Gongylonema pulchrum


Human skin color is predominantly determined by melanin produced in melanosomes within melanocytes and subsequently distributed to keratinocytes. There are many studies that have proposed mechanisms underlying ethnic skin color variations, whereas the processes involved from melanin synthesis in melanocytes to the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes are common among humans. Apart from the activities in the melanogenic rate-limiting enzyme, tyrosinase, in melanocytes and the amounts and distribution patterns of melanosomes in keratinocytes, the abilities of the actin-associated factors in charge of melanosome transport within melanocytes also regulate pigmentation. Mutations in genes encoding melanosome transport-related molecules, such as MYO5A, RAB27A and SLAC-2A, have been reported to cause a human pigmentary disease known as Griscelli syndrome, which is associated with diluted skin and hair color. Thus we hypothesized that process might play a role in modulating skin color variations. To address that hypothesis, the correlations of expression of RAB27A and its specific effector, SLAC2-A, to melanogenic ability were evaluated in comparison with tyrosinase, using human melanocytes derived from 19 individuals of varying skin types. Following the finding of the highest correlation in RAB27A expression to the melanogenic ability, darkly-pigmented melanocytes with significantly higher RAB27A expression were found to transfer significantly more melanosomes to keratinocytes than lightly-pigmented melanocytes in co-culture and in human skin substitutes (HSSs) in vivo, resulting in darker skin color in concert with the difference observed in African-descent and Caucasian skins. Additionally, RAB27A knockdown by a lentivirus-derived shRNA in melanocytes concomitantly demonstrated a significantly reduced number of transferred melanosomes to keratinocytes in co-culture and a significantly diminished epidermal melanin content skin color intensity (ΔL* = 4.4) in the HSSs. These data reveal the intrinsically essential role of RAB27A in human ethnic skin color determination and provide new insights for the fundamental understanding of regulatory mechanisms underlying skin pigmentation.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Skin, Melanin, Race, Human skin color, Melanocyte, Eye color, Human skin


The present work provides evidence that people assume a priori that Blacks feel less pain than do Whites. It also demonstrates that this bias is rooted in perceptions of status and the privilege (or hardship) status confers, not race per se. Archival data from the National Football League injury reports reveal that, relative to injured White players, injured Black players are deemed more likely to play in a subsequent game, possibly because people assume they feel less pain. Experiments 1-4 show that White and Black Americans-including registered nurses and nursing students-assume that Black people feel less pain than do White people. Finally, Experiments 5 and 6 provide evidence that this bias is rooted in perceptions of status, not race per se. Taken together, these data have important implications for understanding race-related biases and healthcare disparities.

Concepts: Black people, United Kingdom, Race, White American, White people, Racism, National Football League


Background Evaluation of candidates to serve as living kidney donors relies on screening for individual risk factors for end-stage renal disease (ESRD). To support an empirical approach to donor selection, we developed a tool that simultaneously incorporates multiple health characteristics to estimate a person’s probable long-term risk of ESRD if that person does not donate a kidney. Methods We used risk associations from a meta-analysis of seven general population cohorts, calibrated to the population-level incidence of ESRD and mortality in the United States, to project the estimated long-term incidence of ESRD among persons who do not donate a kidney, according to 10 demographic and health characteristics. We then compared 15-year projections with the observed risk among 52,998 living kidney donors in the United States. Results A total of 4,933,314 participants from seven cohorts were followed for a median of 4 to 16 years. For a 40-year-old person with health characteristics that were similar to those of age-matched kidney donors, the 15-year projections of the risk of ESRD in the absence of donation varied according to race and sex; the risk was 0.24% among black men, 0.15% among black women, 0.06% among white men, and 0.04% among white women. Risk projections were higher in the presence of a lower estimated glomerular filtration rate, higher albuminuria, hypertension, current or former smoking, diabetes, and obesity. In the model-based lifetime projections, the risk of ESRD was highest among persons in the youngest age group, particularly among young blacks. The 15-year observed risks after donation among kidney donors in the United States were 3.5 to 5.3 times as high as the projected risks in the absence of donation. Conclusions Multiple demographic and health characteristics may be used together to estimate the projected long-term risk of ESRD among living kidney-donor candidates and to inform acceptance criteria for kidney donors. (Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and others.).

Concepts: Renal failure, Chronic kidney disease, Kidney, Nephrology, Renal physiology, Black people, Race, White people