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Disparities in Life Expectancy Increasing
Date:4/22/2008

The poorest are dying even sooner than before, report shows

TUESDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to popular belief, life expectancies are not rising steadily and uniformly across the United States.

In fact, new research shows that between 1983 and 1999, death rates for women went up in many poor counties and, overall, geographical and racial disparities in life expectancy have worsened across the country.

"Disparities are going up not because people are getting better and some are getting better faster," said Majid Ezzati, an associate professor of international health at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "The worst off are simply not getting better, and some are getting worse, and this is especially the case for women. One out of five females' health has not gotten better and, for a subset of those, mortality has gotten worse."

Ezzati is lead author of a new study in the April issue of PLoS Medicine.

It's the health-care version of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

"The poorest subgroups of the population, minorities and blacks and Hispanics in particular, are facing not just greater disparities in life chances than the rest of the population but may actually live shorter lives than they have in the past," said Dr. S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and senior research scientist at the University of Chicago's Center on Aging. "That should be nothing less than alarming, and it points to the rather urgent need for efforts to combat problems associated with diabetes, with obesity."

Olshansky predicted such an occurrence three years ago, one which has been verified by recent research that now includes this latest study.

Between 1960 and 2000, average life expectancy in the United States increased by more than seven years for men and more than six years for women. In fact, life e
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