Study Finds That Blacks Live Longer Than Whites When Racial Disparities in Medical Care Are Eliminated

VA%20Medical%20CenterA fascinating study was just released that could change the way you view Black people, genetics and health. A study in the journal, Circulation, of patients in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs system found that when Blacks and whites get exactly the same treatment, Blacks do better.

The research, which examined nearly 3.1 million patients in the VA system, found that when both groups receive the same care, the racial disparities experienced by Black patients are overcome, and they not only disappear, but apparently work to the advantage of Black people. As was reported in the Los Angeles Times, the study identified 547,441 Black patients and 2,525,525 white patients who had a normal kidney function test between 2004 and 2006. The researchers tracked the patients, most of whom were men with an average age of 60, for an average of eight years.

More than 638,000 died by the end of the study in July 2013. The annual mortality rate for Black men was 22.5 per 1,000, as opposed to 31.9 per 1,000 for white men. In addition, Black men and women in the analysis were 37 percent less likely than whites to develop heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America. There were no difference in the rate of strokes across racial groups.

“We thought we were going to show they do the same if the same care is offered to both groups,” senior author Dr. Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, a nephrologist and epidemiologist at UC Irvine, told the Los Angeles Times. “But we found blacks do even better.

By way of comparison, an analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 5,000 people from the general population found that the adjusted death rate for Blacks was 42 percent higher than for whites. A number of factors explain the negative health outcomes for Blacks, including racial discrimination, lack of access to healthcare, and socioeconomic factors. In addition, the trauma and stress related to racism and racial violence have an adverse impact on African-Americans.

This latest VA study helps to bolster other research on Black genetics. For example, A 2008 Cornell University study found that African-Americans have far greater genetic variations than their white counterparts, and far fewer genetic mutations. In The Developmental Psychology of the Black Child, Dr. Amos Wilson analyzed social science studies and found that Black babies developed more quickly than their European counterparts. For example, the study found that newborn African babies were able to prevent their heads from falling backwards, as opposed to six weeks for babies of European descent. Similarly, Black babies were able to climb steps alone by the time they were 11 months old, while white babies typically could not accomplish this until they were 15 months old.

Further, West Africans generally are better sprinters due to their muscle composition and the way their bodies process energy, while Kenyans are genetically proven to have higher endurance.

Then there are various health benefits of the melanin-rich skin of Black people. The pigment that gives humans darker complexion provides health benefits such as protection from ultraviolet and other types of radiation, fighting off the aging process, and absorbing light and sound waves and other energy sources and converting them into reusable energy. Additionally, melanin is essential to brain, nerve and organ function, aids in human reproduction, and serves as a regulator of an array of metabolic processes and molecular interactions.

One possible reason why such facts and studies are downplayed is the persistence of racism in the medical profession, in which racially biased and poor treatment harms Black people. A medical profession known for a troubling history of medical experimentation against Blacks–and one that still refuses pain medication to Black children to this day– will not likely acknowledge this crucial health information that will only benefit and empower people of African descent. Further, Black physicians are a mere 3 percent of American doctors and a marginalized group, and as The Conversation noted in 2012, the Journal of the National Medical Association, a Black-edited publication, is ignored by the white-dominated profession.

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