Author Affiliation: Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Birmingham.
Blacks live shorter lives than whites in US society. A newborn in the
United States in 1998 had an average life expectancy of 77.3 years if white,
71.3 if black.1 Furthermore, although life
expectancy has increased by about 3 years overall since 1980, the 6-year disadvantage
for blacks has not changed. This lower life expectancy, hence earlier mortality,
for blacks is a reality that holds true overall but also, with alarming uniformity,
across sex, age, and disease subgroups. Potential explanations for this disparity
fall into 2 broad categories: environmental/societal/behavioral vs biological/genetic.
Underlying the latter is the concept that race/ethnicity is, at least in part,
a biological construct.
Kiefe CI. Race/Ethnicity and Cancer SurvivalThe Elusive Target of Biological Differences. JAMA. 2002;287(16):2138-2139. doi:10.1001/jama.287.16.2138