For Black Men, Disparities Mean Shorter Lives

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Men fare worse than women in longevity, as well as in many disease categories, and African American men fare worse than white men. Disparities continue to persist despite recent advances in health care and outreach programs that target inequities in race and socioeconomic status. Here is a snapshot of some:

· LIFE EXPECTANCY The life expectancy for a black male child born in 2004 is 69.5 years, compared with 75.7 years for white males born the same year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

· PROSTATE CANCER African American men are more likely to get and die from prostate cancer than men of any other racial or ethnic group in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An African American man has a 1-in-5 chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime and a 1-in-20 chance of dying from the disease. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for African American men, behind lung cancer.

Scientists are studying possible reasons for these disparities, "including culture, environment and differences in the biology of the disease in African American men," the CDC reports.

· CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE About 42 percent of African American men have high blood pressure, compared with 31 percent of white men, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiovascular disease overall was also more prevalent among black men -- 41 percent, compared with about 34 percent of white men.

· PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND OBESITY About 29.5 percent of black men report regular leisurely physical activity, compared with 33.4 percent of white men, according to the AHA. But black men fare better in the weight category than white men. About 63 percent of black men were overweight (having a body mass index of 25 or higher), compared with 69 percent of white men. And 27.9 percent of black men were obese (a BMI of 30 or higher), compared with 28.2 percent of white men.

· HEALTH STATUS Asian and white Americans are more likely to report being in excellent health, according to NCHS. In a 2005 survey, about 37 percent of whites and 36 percent of Asians reported excellent health, compared with 30 percent of African Americans.

-- January W. Payne


© 2007 The Washington Post Company