Poor African-American men have highest mortality

An African-American man living below 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline had a nearly 2.7 times higher risk of death than an African-American man above poverty status, and had the lowest overall survival in a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Institute of Aging's Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity Across the Life Span study to examine the effects of sex, race and socioeconomic status on overall mortality. The HANDLS study included 3,720 people who self-identified as white or African-American, and poverty status was defined as above or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

In addition to their findings on African-American men's mortality, researchers found that both African-American women and white women living below poverty had a higher risk of death when compared to those living above poverty, but risk was similar across race.

"African-American males are feared and marginalized in American society," the authors concluded. "This lifeline ostracism facilitates cascading negative outcomes in education, employment and in interaction with the criminal justice system. The resultant poverty is a virulent health risk factor for AA [African-American] men."

To address the issue, the study's authors suggested revising the poverty thresholds that trigger eligibility for federal programs.

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