Population

Figure 1.3 Racial variation in taste blindness, the first systematic study of ethnicity.

blindness"6'7 and ''taste blindness,''8 were identified. Human family studies of ''taste blindness'' revealed the heritability of the trait as a feature that came to be accepted as characteristic of human responsiveness to exogenous chemicals.9

''Odor blindness'' and ''taste blindness'' were among the first traits to reveal the high specificity and sensitivity of the human response to chemicals. Figure 1.2 shows a timeline of these ethnogeographic observations. Additional studies performed in several populations and subpopulations in different parts of the world revealed that taste blindness varied by more than 15-fold from one population to another, and showed that the frequency of ''nontasters'' in Europeans of 35-40% was appreciably greater than the 2-6% found in Africans, Chinese, Japanese, South Amerinds (Brazil), and Lapps (Figure 1.3). These population studies were the first systematic documentation of the association of race or ethnicity to the human response to chemicals. Since then, investigation of ethnogeographic variation has been regarded as an important part of pharmacogenetics.

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