U.S. Hispanics Are Healthier Than the Rest of the Country Despite Fewer Healthcare Opportunities

May 28, 2015 by No Comments

Hispanic Businessman - Headshot Portrait
In many areas of the healthcare industry, the American Hispanic population seems to trail behind other ethnic and racial groups, and lower-than-average incomes and education levels aren’t helping matters any.

But despite these setbacks, Hispanics actually have a higher life expectancy than both white and black Americans, according to a survey released on May 5 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fox News Latino has dubbed this trend the “Hispanic Paradox.” The survey was the first full report conducted by the CDC specifically regarding the country’s Hispanic population, the Washington Post reports, and the findings reflect data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau between 2009 and 2013.

Research shows that Hispanic populations in the U.S. generally have less access to health insurance, as well as less access to affordable medical providers. The national Hispanic population is also more likely to suffer from chronic liver disease, has higher rates of diabetes, and has a high homicide rate.

Nevertheless, there are a few specific areas of healthcare where Hispanics seem to have an advantage: compared to white Americans, Hispanics are 35% less likely to suffer from heart disease and 49% less likely to suffer from cancer. Researchers also found that Hispanic populations have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease, influenza, and pneumonia.

Ultimately, Hispanics have a life expectancy of about two years longer than the rest of the American population.

According to Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, there are two reasons why this “paradox” exists:

First, Hispanics smoke less than white Americans. While 23.8% of the white American population regularly smokes, only 13.5% of Hispanics smoke. Poor oral health isn’t specific to American healthcare — even in Canada, 70% of the population is likely to develop gum disease — but almost 50% of the American population doesn’t receive regular dental cleanings every six months, and almost a quarter of the population doesn’t even plan on scheduling a cleaning.

When smoking is added to the mix, poor oral health can quickly cause a person’s overall health to decline.

Secondly, Hispanics likely have longer life expectancy because many are immigrants from other countries and they haven’t adopted the high-fat American diet. As researchers looked specifically at second- and third-generation Hispanics in the U.S., the obesity rate and life expectancy rate started resembling that of the rest of the country.

Researchers also noted that subgroups within the Hispanic population also differ quite a bit — perhaps because of genetics, but most likely because of cultural influences. Puerto Ricans, for example, have the worst average health risks and lowest life expectancy rates compared to other subgroups, which is likely the result of high smoking rates among Puerto Ricans.

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