Who Ages Faster, Blacks or Whites?
Researchers find a 3-year gap in 'biological age'
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2014 6:29 PM CDT
A black woman prays in church. Her biological age is on average three years higher than that of similarly situated whites, according to a new study.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

(Newser) – A troubling new study says that black Americans age faster and die younger than their white counterparts, possibly because of the "everyday stressors" of being black, Medical Daily reports. Researchers at USC calculated this "biological age gap" by analyzing the physical exams and lifestyle surveys of 7,644 Americans aged 30 and older, 11% of whom were black and the rest white. The study considered 10 age-related biomarkers (including total cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and systolic blood pressure) as well as education level, smoking history, and body-mass index, Pacific Standard reports. In the end, researchers calculated an average biological age of 53.16 years for blacks and 49.84 years for whites.

The age gap grew closer—to 52.72 for blacks and 49.89 for whites—when socioeconomic position and health behaviors were considered, but that's still a 3-year difference. So why the gap? Researchers pointed to higher obesity rates among blacks, and a recent study concluded that blacks who internalize the idea of racial inferiority and "anti-black bias" have shorter leukocyte telomeres (another "biological age" marker). The latest study didn't exactly measure racism, but noted that "everyday stressors associated with being black may negatively impact physiological functioning." What's more, "the most disadvantaged blacks may be accumulating poorer and poorer health as they age" before dying at an earlier age than whites in similar situations. (Read about the disturbing "racial disparity" black women face on cancer.)

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Blacks Age Faster Than Whites Do is...
7%
21%
10%
5%
3%
54%
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Comments
Showing 3 of 134 comments
ssohara
Jul 30, 2014 8:37 AM CDT
Blacks in the US still live a lot longer than blacks in African countries like Liberia, Ghana, etc. I am sure there is tension for some blacks because they experience racism but there are also choices some people (of all races) make. For example, I had a friend who was on welfare temporarily (she had left a very abusive husband and a few weeks later lost her job). She was on welfare for about 6 months. Anyway, during that time, she said she would go to the store and buy a roasting chicken and vegetables with her food stamps and see other people in line buying frozen dinners, junk food, etc. She managed to stretch her food stamp money by cooking meals from scratch so she could also afford fresh fruits, salads, etc. Others (of all races) made different choices. Now, of course, many of these other people might not have had any idea how to cook a meal from scratch. But for a lot of them it might have been pure laziness. When I was a graduate student I had a strict grocery budget of $35 a week which is what I could afford. (I did not qualify for nor receive any government assistance, but I did receive a stipend from the university of $700 a month which is what I lived on. $140 of that was allocated for food out of my budget.) Anyway, I ate a lot of rice and beans plus whatever vegetable was on sale that week. I could have eaten nothing but ramen noodles and actually saved money but I chose to spend a little more in both time and money and eat healthier. Cooking rice, beans and veggies actually took me more time than heating water for ramen would have. One way I saved money - I walked or rode my bike to school instead of using public transport. This also gave me daily exercise to keep me healthy. (I gave up my car while in grad school so I wouldn't have to spend money on insurance and gas.) Again, these are just choices people make.
CJ
Jul 26, 2014 6:45 PM CDT
might be diet/fried foods which are prevalent in the south and many other socio/ecomomic factors. Race? PC answer
Ezekiel 25:17
Jul 26, 2014 4:05 PM CDT
One interesting study funded by the NIH, NAACP, and HHS had to do with this same outcome but had some rather harsh outcomes. Take a Black person and a white person of same socioeconomic level, same insurance plan, same medical issue, same hospital, same doctors, and same plan of care. Measured across the board from poor, young, old, rich, middle income, etc. Conclusion is Black people take longer to heal, are less likely to follow the recovery plan, are less likely to stay with the rehabilitation plans, and are in overall worse health six months later than the White people. The study did not take enough time to determine ultimate cause. You could point to diaspora of slavery that permeates the US to this day. How about the white flight that caused urban ghettos that make it nearly impossible for Black people in general to get out and walk for health. We have roughly 12 square miles of neighborhoods you would never want to be seen walking on the streets because you see where people are gunned down just for gangbanger fun. How do we solve this? I guarantee you if someone did that, they would be a bagillionaire.