Life Expectancy And Mortality

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Harvard Medical School
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Life Expectancy And Mortality

Women's Health
Specialty Groups
Life Expectancy And Mortality
Life Expectancy And Mortality
Learn what the statistics tell us about the mortality and life expectancy of minority women in the United States.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Life Expectancy And Mortality Rates

According to the latest U.S. vital statistics data (2009,) the life expectancy for a baby born in 2009 is 78.5.

Record-high life expectancy was recorded for both white males — 76.4 years — and black males — 71.1 years. The same is true for white females, whose life expectancy is now 81.2 years and black females, who have a life expectancy of 77.6 years.

Hispanic men have a life expectancy of 78.7; it's 83.5 for Hispanic women. Asian American women experience the greatest life expectancy (85.8 years) of any other ethnic group in the U.S.

Leading causes of death

  • African-American women. The four leading causes of death among African-American women are, in order of prevalence: heart disease; cancer, strokes and diabetes. African-American women develop high blood pressure earlier in life and have higher average blood pressures compared with white women. African-American women are more likely than all other women to die from breast cancer. Their tumors often are found at a later, more advanced stage. So, there are fewer treatment options.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native women. The four leading causes of death among American Indian/Alaskan Native women are, in order of prevalence: cancer, heart disease, unintentional injuries (accidents) and diabetes. Native women have high rates of diabetes, overweight and obesity, and high blood pressure, which are factors that increase heart disease risk. What's more, many American Indian and Alaska Native women smoke cigarettes and/or are physically inactive — both which also raise heart disease risk.
  • Asian-American/Pacific Islander women. The four leading causes of death for Asian-American/Pacific Islander women are, in order of prevalence: cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Asian-American women have the highest life expectancy of any other ethnic group in the U.S. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Asian-American women. For Filipino women, it is the leading cause of death. Japanese-American women have the highest breast cancer rate among Asian-American women. Many experts think that the Western lifestyle might play a role in this high rate.

    Overall, Asian-American women have much lower rates of heart disease than other women. Yet, heart disease is still the second leading cause of death for this group. And, importantly, heart disease rates vary greatly among subgroups of Asian-Americans. Heart disease strikes Asian-Indians and other South Asians especially hard. In the United States, the heart disease rate is four times higher for Asian-Indians than for whites. Heart disease also tends to affect South Asians at a younger age. Genetics and lifestyle factors both play a role in heart disease risk.

  • Latina women. The four leading causes of death among Latinas are the same as for African-American women: heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Overweight and obesity are serious health problems for Latino families. For instance, about 3 in 4 Mexican-American women are overweight or obese. Mexican-American women make up the largest portion of Latinas in the United States. Another problem is that nearly 6 in 10 Latinas are not physically active, making it harder to keep a healthy weight.

    Latinas have the highest rates of cervical cancer of all groups of women. Latinas also are more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-Hispanic whites. Lack of screening is an important factor behind this disparity. In fact, 6 in 10 cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years.


heart,life expectancy,minority women,cancer,diabetes,breast cancer,cervical cancer,high blood pressure,obesity
Last updated October 15, 2012

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