U.S. Finds Gaping Racial Disparities in Public Health

Paul Simao, Reuters, Jan. 13

ATLANTA—Black people in the United States are far more likely than whites to die from strokes, diabetes and other diseases, according to a federal study that shows wide racial disparities persist in health care.

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U.S. researchers have been warning that high-fat diets, smoking and poor access to quality health care were leading to gaping racial disparities in the rates for heart disease, stroke and cancer.

In its report, the CDC revealed that the number of potential years of life lost in 2002 due to strokes, diabetes and perinatal diseases was three times higher for black Americans under 75 than for whites of the same age.

That gap increased to about 11 times for AIDS and nine times for homicide, the CDC said. African-Americans also had substantially higher rates of some types of cancer in 2001, including stomach and colon/rectal cancer.

The CDC also noted black Americans were less likely to have health insurance, get vaccinated for influenza and pneumococcal disease, receive prenatal care in the first trimester and engage in regular moderate physical activity in adulthood.

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Separate but related CDC studies released on Thursday found that blacks suffer higher rates of hypertension and appear to have a greater likelihood of getting gonorrhea, chlamydia and a number of other reportable infectious diseases.

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