Seven Diseases That Are More Deadly For Blacks Than For Whites



April V. Taylor

There are a number of diseases that disproportionately affect Black people more than other races, particularly white people, While some diseases that disproportionately affect Black people are considered preventable and curable, some are not. Lorraine Jones recently highlighted seven of the deadliest diseases that affect Black people more than the rest of the population.

Diabetes comes at the top of the list, with the disease being 60 percent more common in Blacks than in whites. Not only is there a higher incidence, Blacks are 2.5 times more likely to have to have a limb amputated as a result of complications and 5.6 times more likely to suffer kidney disease than other diabetes patients.

Asthma is another disease that is more common among Blacks but is also deadlier for Black asthma patients, with Black people being three times more likely to die from asthma complications than whites. Sarcoidosis is another disease that affects the lungs that is a whopping 16 times more common among Blacks than whites. Sarcoidosis causes lung scarring. Former NFL star Reggie White died at 43 from the disease.

Lung cancer is a disease that baffles researchers when it comes to its disproportionate impact on Black people. Even though Black men have a lower rate of exposure to tobacco, they are 50 percent more likely to get lung cancer than white men.  Something else that disproportionately affects Black people is dying from a stroke. Black men and women have twice the first-time stroke risk of whites, and Black people between the ages of 35 to 54 are four times more likely to die from a stroke.

High blood pressure, which some studies have linked to stress caused by racism and discrimination, is a disease that Black people develop earlier in life than whites and also at much higher levels. Nearly half of Black men and women over the age of 20 have high blood pressure, with 42 percent of Black men having it and 45 percent of Black women.

One last baffling statistic is how much more deadly cancer is for Black men and women. Even though cancer treatment is equally successful across all races, Black men and women have higher death rates than white people, with Black men having a 40 percent higher death rate and Black women have a 20 percent higher death rate than white men and women.

These disparities exist for a number of reasons ranging from genes to cultural issues. American Lung Association board of directors member LeRoy M. Graham Jr. addresses the disparities by stating, “I just think we as physicians need to get more impassioned. There are health disparities. But we as doctors need to spend more time recognizing these disparities and addressing them – together with our patients – on a very individual level.”


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