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Minority Health: Liver Diseases In Latinos


Introduction

Every ethnic or racial group has peculiar health concerns. Many of these concerns are due to health differences and other factors ranging from genetics, environmental factors, and access to health care and cultural factors. In this essay, we are going to look at health issues that affect minority Americans, more specifically, liver disease in Hispanic Americans.

According to research on minority health by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), cirrhosis death rates are much higher for Latinos. In fact, it is the sixth leading cause of mortality among Hispanic men; this translates to twice the rate as that of the white population.

The ethnic variations in liver disease burden remain poorly understood. Nevertheless, differences in behavioral patterns, access to healthcare, and referral to specialists as well as utilization of therapeutic treatments have all been projected as potential reason for the less promising outcomes in Hispanic persons. Consequently, the U.S government commissioned researchers on minority health to try and find out how they can counter this problem. The results indicated that Hispanic Americans exhibited singular disparities in epidemiology and response to therapy of acute liver disease. It was found that the most common chronic liver disease among this ethnic group is Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), followed by chronic alcoholic liver disease.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Multiple studies have produced an extensive literature on NAFLD. It is recognized and associated with ethnic-specific variances in body habitus, physiological as well as biochemical characteristics. Consequently, the disease is more prevalent among Hispanic persons than in African Americans and Non-Hispanic White Americans. Ethnic variation in NAFLD is attributable to various factors. The most important risk factor is the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome which is strikingly high in Latin American population. Metabolic syndrome involves risk factors such as obesity and insulin resistance that are linked positively with hepatic steatosis in Latinos only. Environmental risk factors, as well as genetic differences, are implicated as being responsible for such ethnic variations in NAFLD though not as dramatic.

Alcoholic Liver Disease

When it comes to alcoholic liver disease, the behavioral patterns vary quite extensively among Latinos and the rest of the population. Latinos have lower rates of alcohol consumption. Therefore, liver diseases related to alcohol consumption are relatively lower. Paradoxically, Latinos have a higher prevalence of acute alcoholic liver conditions than African Americans and Non-Hispanic Americans.

Conclusion

Apparently, the Hispanic population is quite prevalent in liver disease. With regards to treatment, there are many risk factors that make this group of people susceptible to the illness, some which are treatable while other will take a while to study and find a solution.

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