October 14, 2010

Hispanics In US Outlive Whites And Blacks, By Years

US Hispanics outlive whites by 2-1/2 years and blacks by nearly 8 years, according to a report released Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

Life expectancy for a Hispanic baby at birth is nearly 81 years, compared with 78 years for non-Hispanic white babies and slightly less than 73 years for black babies, the CDC said.

As a total population, U.S. residents born in 2006 can expect to live an average of 77.7 years.

The CDC report is the first to calculate Hispanic life expectancy in the U.S., and shows that Hispanics have a higher life expectancy at nearly all ages, even though U.S. Hispanics tend to be poorer than the general population. 

Some experts attribute the Hispanic longevity to clean living.

"Although seemingly paradoxical, these results are consistent with the findings of numerous studies which show a Hispanic mortality advantage despite this population's lower socioeconomic status," said the CDC's Elizabeth Arias, who authored the report.

Despite having less education and access to healthcare, U.S. Hispanics have a 35 percent lower risk of death from heart disease, a 40 percent lower risk of cancer, and a 25 percent lower risk of stroke than the general population, said David Hayes-Bautista of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA.

Hayes-Bautista told Reuters that while the reasons for this are not yet clear, he suspects it may be due to culture and behavioral differences rather than genetics, given the diversity of U.S. Hispanics.

"Latinos compared to non-Hispanic whites are far less likely to smoke, drink and use drugs," he told Reuters.

"Clearly, it is not driven by income and education."

Among the report's other findings are:

- Hispanic males at birth have a life expectancy of nearly 78 years. However, if they reach the age of 65, their life expectancy jumps to 84 years.

- For Hispanic females, life expectancy at birth is 83 years, rising to nearly 87 years if they reach age 65.

- Among white males, life expectancy at birth is 75 years, but increases to 82 if the men reach age 65.

- For white women, life expectancy at birth is slightly more than 80 years, rising to nearly 85 for those who reach 65.

- Life expectancy among black U.S. males at birth is 69 years, increasing to 80 years if they reach the age of 65.

- For black U.S. females, life expectancy is 76 years at birth, increasing to 83 years if they reach the age 65.

The full CDC report can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_02/sr02_152.pdf.