Life Expectancy Disparity Between Whites, Blacks In California Persists

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White men in California live an average of seven years longer thanblack men, and white women in the state live an average of five yearslonger than black women, according to a study released on Wednesday bythe Public Policy Institute of California, the Los Angeles Times reports (Engel, Los Angeles Times,8/30). For the study, titled "Death in the Golden State," co-authorsHelen Lee and Shannon McConville, both of the institute, examined694,317 death certificates issued in California between 2000 and 2002and compared the causes of death among the largest racial and ethnicgroups in the state.

The study found that Hispanic men inCalifornia lived an average of two years longer than white men and thatHispanic women in the state lived an average of three years longer thanwhite women. In addition, the study found that Asian men and women inCalifornia lived an average of five years longer than white men andwomen.

The study also found that:

  • Asianmen in California lived to an average age of 80, and Asian women livedto an average age of 85, with common causes of death that includedheart disease, cancer, strokes and aneurysms;
  • Hispanicmen in California lived to an average age of 77, and Hispanic womenlived to an average age of 83, with common causes of death thatincluded heart disease, cancer and diabetes;
  • Whitemen in California lived to an average age of 75, and white women livedto an average age of 80, with common causes of death that includedheart disease and cancer; and
  • Blackmen in California lived to an average age of 68, and black women livedto an average age of 75, with common causes of death that includedheart disease and cancer.

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According to the study, althoughheart disease and cancer were common causes of death among all racialand ethnic groups in California, they affected whites and blacks atmuch higher rates than Asians and Hispanics (Olvera, San Jose Mercury News,8/30). Men and women in all racial and ethnic groups in California withmore than a high school education lived longer than those with lesseducation, although disparities among whites and blacks remained forthose with similar levels of education, the study found (Los Angeles Times, 8/30).

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Lee said, "The leading killers are similar across groups. If you targetthe risk factors for those conditions -- and there are a lot of factorsincluding family history, diet and exercise -- that might lead toimprovements for all groups" (Barbassa, AP/Contra Costa Times,8/30). "Clear racial and ethnic patterns emerge for many conditions,"Lee said, adding, "A more detailed understanding of the patterns couldhelp health officials develop strategies that both target the leadingcauses of death and reduce disparities between groups."

Ellen Wu, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network,said, "I think information like this can help us get to the next step"in efforts to reduce disparities among racial and ethnic groups in thestate (San Jose Mercury News, 8/30).
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