According to the CDC, the life expectancy of the average United States citizen increased from 70.8 years in 1970 to 78.7 years in 2010, with the 2010 life expectancy for whites being 78.9 years and the life expectancy for blacks being 75.1 years. Across the same 40-year timespan, life expectancy for whites increased 10%, while life expectancy for blacks increased 17%, although pre-existing racial disparities in terms of comorbid medical conditions remained relatively stable. The figure below illustrates some factors which contribute to life expectancy differentials in populations. The majority are chronic diseases, some of which, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, are known to be directly related to depression.
A wide variety of results were found from these studies. Some of these include how perinatal conditions, including infant mortality and other conditions related to maternal health, negatively impact expectancy disparities. Additionally, it was found that during childhood, blacks are 30% more likely to attempt suicide and 73% more likely to be obese compared to whites. Lastly, one large finding was that in adulthood, blacks, compared to whites, are 30% less likely to seek treatment for depression, at least twice as likely to have a limb amputated due to diabetes, and at greatly increased risk for breast, cervical, and prostate cancer.
Figure 1. Contribution of the leading causes of death to the difference in life expectancy between black and white persons: United States, 2010.
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