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Pac Health Dialog. 2001 Mar;8(1):129-56.

Differences in disease frequency between Europeans and Polynesians: directions for future research into genetic risk factors.

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Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92-019, Auckland, New Zealand.


The purpose of this review is to identify complex genetic diseases that might be common in Polynesian ethnic groups because of a high frequency of susceptibility genes. Since a number of Polynesian ethnic groups are descended from recent founder populations, they may be especially suitable for studies designed to identify these genes. We have reviewed the epidemiological literature looking for diseases that i) have a higher frequency in at least two Polynesian groups than in Europeans living in the same geographic areas, ii) are not at high frequency in Polynesia entirely because of high levels of known environmental risk factors, and iii) are known to be inherited in other ethnic groups. Twenty-one diseases fulfilling these three criteria were identified. It may be possible to design studies to identify the genes that cause these diseases in Polynesian ethnic groups.

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