Social Factors May Affect Lifespan More Than Race,
TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- A group of socioeconomic
factors such as education, income and work are better indicators of
your chances of living to age 70 than race or geography, a new
The findings challenge the long-held belief that race or the
region of the country where you reside are the best markers of how
long you may live, according to researchers from Stanford
University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif.
Previous research has found large differences in life expectancy
in various regions of the United States. For example, people tend
to die younger in large urban areas and in the South. A study
published last year found that men in five counties in Mississippi
lived an average of 66.5 years, several years less than the
national average of 75.4 years for men.
Racial disparities also are a well-established factor in life
expectancy. For example, a recent study found that white men live
an average of about seven years longer than black men, and white
women live about five years longer than black women, according to a
Stanford University news release.
In the new study, the researchers examined data on the
probability of survival to age 70 for people in counties across the
United States. The data was initially categorized according to sex
and race, but the researchers then considered how other factors
affect life expectancy.
The analysis showed that when factors related to local social
conditions -- such as education, income, and job and marital status
-- are included, health differences based on race and region
"While there is an enormous survival difference between some counties, it is the social and environmental characteristics of a given county and its population that matter the most," study first author Dr. Mark Cullen, a professor of medicine and chief of the division of general medical disciplines at Stanford, said in the news release.
"Once certain factors -- such as the fraction of adults in the county who finish high school, the fraction with managerial or professional jobs and the fraction of adults who live in two-parent households -- are accounted for, even geography, such as being in the South, is moot," he noted.
The study appears online April 17 in the journal
The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers tips for
Copyright © 2012
. All rights reserved.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.