Blacks in US experienced 1.6M more deaths than whites over past 2 decades: Study

World
Thu, 18 May 2023 6:58 GMT
Over 22-year period, Black community was cut short of over 80 million years of life, study says.
Blacks in US experienced 1.6M more deaths than whites over past 2 decades: Study

Over 22-year period, Black community was cut short of over 80 million years of life, study says.

Blacks in the US have experienced more than 1.63 million excess deaths compared to whites over the past 22 years, according to a new health study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  

The report, released Tuesday, also revealed that due to their higher mortality rate during the period, Black Americans lost more than 80 million excess years of life over the past two-plus decades compared to white Americans.

"Heart disease had the highest excess mortality rates, and the excess years of potential life lost rates were largest among infants and middle-aged adults," the study noted, adding that cancer, especially in males, was a major driver of differences in excess deaths.

The research was conducted from 1999 through 2020 and found that these mortality rate trends were improving until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

"After a period of progress in reducing disparities, improvements stalled, and differences between the Black population and the white population worsened in 2020," the JAMA article stated. "In 2020, the highest excess age-adjusted mortality rate among Black males was for deaths due to COVID-19 (80 per 100,000 individuals)." 

COVID-19 was also the second-highest cause of death (47 per 100,000 individuals) after heart disease among Black women, according to the report

"It led us back to a situation where we were no better than we were 20 years ago," said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, an author of the study, in an interview with CBS News. "These are preventable deaths, and it's just up to us to configure society in a way that's responsive to the needs of this community and can recognize our obligation to eliminate these disparities." 

Krumholz added that race is a social construct, meaning it does not have a strong root in biology.

"People aren't born predetermined that their life expectancies are going to be shorter, but by where they live, the exposures that they have, the way the medical care system treats them simply because of their race," he said.

The JAMA report also noted that these findings show the need to assess progress and pushed for a call to action to end the discrepancies in mortality rates between Blacks and whites while promoting health equity in the US.​​​​​​​ 

"With millions more lives and life-years at stake, new strategies are needed," the study concluded.

AA

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