The impact of race and ethnicity in the social epigenomic regulation of disease

Publication Abstract

Rehkopf, David H., and Belinda L. Needham. 2019. "The impact of race and ethnicity in the social epigenomic regulation of disease." In Nutritional Epigenomics edited by Ferguson, Bradley S.. Academic Press.

Studying the impact of race and ethnicity on epigenetic differences related to disease may shed light on the biological pathways through which environments contribute to health disparities. We recommend that all research clearly specify race and ethnicity as social categories and specify whether the focus of the study is on effects of self-identified or externally-identified race and ethnicity or, instead, on effects of continental ancestry or genetics. We demonstrate that due to the high levels of collinearity between self-identified race and continental ancestry, epigenetic studies focused on understanding the impacts of race and ethnicity should not statistically control for continental ancestry. Studies of the environment should control for self-identified race and ethnicity while studies of genetic impacts on epigenetic markers should control for continental ancestry as the most important confounders. Without a clear theoretical premise, quantitative studies of race and ethnicity and epigenomic regulation of disease will likely confuse the influences of continental ancestry and the environment on racial and ethnic differences in epigenetic markers.


Epidemiology Ethnicity Race DNA methylation Continental ancestry Directed acyclic graph

Browse | Search | Next

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Mehta makes it clear why young people are leading the rise of COVID cases in Michigan: Socializing

More News


Frey's Social Science Data Analysis Network, SSDAN wins 2020 MERLOT Sociology Classics Award

Doing COVID-19 research? These data tools can help!

More Highlights

Connect with PSC follow PSC on Twitter Like PSC on Facebook