This story does not really constitute news for regular Gates of Vienna readers. We’ve all seen the studies about the prevalence of cross-cousin marriage in the Muslim world, and the deleterious effect this has had on the gene pool.
What’s significant about this article is that it was published in the Arab media. This particular text appeared in English, but one assumes that Arabic-language versions are also circulating.
According to Al-Arabiya:
Arabs Suffer From High Rate of Gene Disorders
The report by the Dubai-based Center for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS) said Arabs have one of the highest rates of genetic disorders mostly related to consanguinity, or marriages between close relatives.
The genetic research institute found that around 63 percent of the genetic conditions found in Arabs, who often practice marriage between relatives, were related to consanguinity and warned the numbers were likely to rise as more research is conducted and more disorders discovered.
In the United Arab Emirates, a country with the fifth highest rate of inter-family marriages, there are currently over 250 types of genetic diseases, the second-highest after neighboring Oman.
“Prevalence of genetic diseases is very high in the UAE compared to the rest of the world, so it is a major concern. It also puts a lot of burden on the government financially. We need to prepare strategies with a special focus on genetics,” Dr. Ghazi Omar Tadmouri, Assistant Director of CAGS, said in a statement.
CAGS has so far completed studies in the UAE, Oman and Bahrain and plans to continue extensive research throughout the Arab world.
Reports have found that several genomic diseases such as thalassaemia, a blood disorder, diabetes, breast cancer and Down’s syndrome have reached epidemic levels, more than 100 cases per 100,000, in the three Gulf countries researched so far.
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Ghazi said building the database was important as “it gives us a bird’s-eye view of each country on genetic diseases. Some are epidemic and some very rare,” he told the UAE paper The National.
Dr. Anain Yvorra, general director of France’s Eurobiomed, organizer of this year’s Montpellier conference on rare genetic diseases, told Al Arabiya the research done by CAGS would be of great interest to the field of genomic studies.
“The chance of genetic diseases increases with each consanguine marriage between defective gene carriers. A genetic pool with a long history of such marriages would indeed bread [sic] very interesting results.”
He noted however that although most of the diseases recognized by CAGS as epidemics in the UAE, Oman and Bahrain, are genetically related, breast cancer could also have many other triggers.
“Breast cancer could be environmental or emotional as well as genetic.”
The center funded by the Sheikh Hamadan Award form medical sciences states on its website that its vision is “to alleviate human suffering from genetic diseases in the Arab World.”
Hat tip: TB.