Differences in Cause-Specific Mortality Between Latino and White Adults

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Background:Understanding differences in cause-specific mortality between Latinos and whites is important for targeting future public health interventions and research aimed at eliminating health disparities.Objectives:We sought to determine the contribution of specific causes of death to Latino–white differences in mortality.Research Design:Using nationally representative data, we estimated cause-specific mortality risks, which were then used in a simulation model to estimate mortality events for a cohort of persons starting at age 25 and followed until death or age 75.Subjects:Subjects were 507,820 Latino and white adults, age 25 or older, who participated in the 1986–1994 National Health Interview Surveys.Measures:Outcomes were years of potential life lost before age 75 from specific causes of death and age-specific mortality rate ratios for Latinos compared with whites.Results:Latinos had higher mortality rates than whites before age 45 and similar mortality rates at older ages. Latino women lost 315 (95% confidence interval [CI], 229–2423) more years of potential life (per 1000 persons before the age of 75) than white women and Latino men lost 595 (95% CI, 513–1675) more years than white men. For both men and women, whites lost substantially more years of potential life than Latinos from lung cancer. Homicide, diabetes, HIV, and liver disease contributed most to the excess years of potential life lost among Latino men, and diabetes and HIV contributed most to the excess years of potential life lost among Latino women.Conclusions:To eliminate health disparities between Latinos and whites, future health policy and public health efforts should target diabetes, homicide, HIV, and liver disease among Latinos and lung cancer among whites.

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