Columbia University Medical Center

Death Rates Higher in Arab-Americans than in Non-Arab and Non-Hispanic Whites

AP Photo/Adam Rose

Arab-Americans have lower life expectancies than non-Arab and non-Hispanic whites, according to a study led by researchers at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. The finding was a surprise because Arab-Americans generally have higher income and education levels than other groups. Based on a review of deaths in Michigan from 1990–2007, the researchers found that women and men of Arab descent had greater rates of death from diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. They also had lower rates of death from chronic respiratory diseases, likely because of lower smoking rates among Arab-Americans. The life expectancy of Arab-American women was 1.4 years lower, and the life expectancy of Arab-American men 2.0 years lower. The stresses of immigration, acculturation, and discrimination may contribute to this, say researchers Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, and Abdulrahman M. El-Sayed, DPhil, and colleagues at the University of Oxford, UK, and the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The study was published December 28, 2011 in the Public Library of Science (PLoS).

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