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Geneticists, meanwhile, are also getting more tailored information about disease risk and prevalence as genetic testing in medical research centers continues.

Physicians accept that cystic fibrosis, for example, is much more common in people with Northern European ancestry and that sickle cell disease occurs dramatically more often in people with African origins. These commonly accepted racial and ethnic differences in disease prevalence are just the tip of the iceberg when looking at clinical differences that vary based on genetics.

But there’s a problem, a recent study from the National Institutes of Health found. Many physicians and other providers are uncomfortable discussing race with their patients, and also reticent to connect race or ethnicity to genetics and clinical decision-making, the study suggested.

Overall, physician focus groups “asserted that genetics has a limited role in explaining racial differences in health,” the authors added.

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