Here’s Why Kidney Disease Affects Black People Differently

According to the National Kidney Foundation, Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in African Americans. African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as Caucasians. Approximately 4.9 million African Americans over 20 years of age are living with either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.

Recently, researchers have found ties between certain genetic variants and kidney disease in African Americans. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), suggest that widespread screening for these variants in the black general population is not yet justified.

Per, African Americans have an elevated risk for chronic kidney disease and kidney failure compared with European Americans. Studies have shown that much of this risk is due to genetic variations in a gene called apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1), which creates a protein that is a component of HDL, or good cholesterol.

These variants arose tens of thousands of years ago in sub-Saharan Africa, and so are present in

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