Ethnicity data must be specific for research

Traditional ethnic groups are too broad to be useful for guiding treatment and research, a US study suggests.

A team from New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine studied samples from 900 people self-identified as European American, African American or Hispanic.

The data showed a 'broad continuum of ancestral origin', making classification by race or ethnicity 'uninformative', researchers said.

'When viewed from the clinical perspective this evidence invites a re-evaluation of the relevance of racial/ethnic labels,' they said.

The researchers concluded: 'In combination with evidence of genetic heterogeneity within and between populations, this picture of extensive gene flow lends credence to the argument that the transfer of historical population labels which reflect language and other social categories onto patient samples will in many cases turn out to be unwarranted.'

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