Study Analyzes Causes of Death of San Francisco Residents by Race, Gender, Age
A new report by the San Francisco Department of Public Health analyzed the leading causes of death for specific racial groups, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The report looked at death certificates of all city residents who died in 2003 and 2004 and then examined the race, gender, age and cause of death for each individual. The same study was conducted in the early 1990s.
Compared with other groups, blacks -- who make up 6% of the city's population -- lose more years of life expectancy from nearly all leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, various forms of cancer, drug overdose, alcohol use disorders and diabetes, the report said. Violence, more than any other cause of death, was responsible for the highest loss of life expectancy among black men.
The analysis also found that among city residents:
- Hispanics and Asian-Americans generally lost fewer years of life expectancy than white residents;
- Hispanics are healthier than predicted for their socioeconomic status, a similar finding to the 1990s study;
- Cardiovascular disease resulted in the most lost years of life expectancy for Asian-Americans, whites, and black and Hispanic women;
- HIV/AIDS-related complications cause the most premature deaths among Hispanic men;
- Among all residents, there were fewer deaths from HIV/AIDS-related complications than in the 1990s study;
- Stroke was the second leading cause of death among Asian-Americans; and
- Whites lose more years of life expectancy to suicide and colon cancer than blacks.
Mitch Katz, the city's public health chief, said that race does appear to affect an individual's life span and cause of death. He said he anticipates the findings will help physicians, community leaders, educators and activists tailor medical care and public awareness campaigns to different ethnic groups. "To extend meaningful life, you have to know what are the different things people are dying of," he said (Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/24).
The study is available online (.pdf). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.