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When Black People Get Equal Medical Care They Live Longer Than Whites

A new study shows Black patients fare better than whites when African Americans get equal and adequate health care.

Via LA Times:

Over a nine-year period, researchers found that the adjusted mortality rate of African Americans was 24% lower than that of whites, according to a study published this month in the journal Circulation.

“We thought we were going to show they do the same if the same care is offered to both groups,” said senior author Dr. Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, a nephrologist and epidemiologist at UC Irvine. “But we found blacks do even better.

“This is a paradox within a paradox,” he said.

The results suggest that blacks may have genetic or other biological advantages that make them healthier than whites in some ways, but that those advantages are canceled out by other factors in society at large, the study authors wrote.

That idea is not new because it has been proven that Blacks survive longer than whites:

Among patients with kidney disease, blacks survive longer than whites — a well-known exception to the overall pattern. Kidney care also happens to be an area of medicine without large racial disparities, since the U.S. government has long covered dialysis for anybody who needs it.

Kalantar-Zadeh and his colleagues wondered whether there were similar differences among people without kidney disease who had equal access to healthcare.

Using VA records, they identified 547,441 black patients and 2,525,525 white patients who had a normal kidney function test between 2004 and 2006. Most were men, and their average age was 60. The researchers tracked them for an average of eight years.

In an editorial that accompanied the study in Circulation, Drs. Nakela Cook and George Mensah of the National Institutes of Health said the results raise important questions about health disparities in the U.S. They also cautioned that though there may be biological differences between blacks and whites, other factors could be at work as well.

For instance, they wrote, blacks in the VA system might have better underlying health than blacks in the general population — a gap that may be less pronounced for whites. Exercise, diet and other factors not considered in the study could also play a role.

Discuss. You can read the full study HERE.



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