A recent study published in JAMA highlights a significant disparity in mortality rates between black and white individuals in the United States. The study found that the mortality rate for black people is considerably higher due to the way the medical care system treats them based on their race, according to CBS News.
The researchers noted that after a period of progress in reducing disparities, improvements stalled, and the differences between the black and white populations worsened in 2020. From 1999 to 2020, the black population experienced over 1.63 million more deaths and lost more than 80 million excess years of life compared to the white population.
Heart disease emerged as the leading cause of excess mortality rates, with infants and middle-aged adults experiencing the largest rates of potential life loss. Cancer, particularly in men, also contributed significantly to the disparity in deaths, according to the study.
The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the disproportionate impact on the black population, as revealed by a previous study published in 2020.
Dr. Harlan Krumholz, the lead author of the study, emphasized that race is a social construct and should not determine life expectancies. He highlighted the need for addressing the social and systemic factors that lead to these disparities, including where people live, their exposures, and the way the healthcare system treats them based on race.
The study’s findings serve as a sobering reminder that preventable deaths continue to occur, and it is crucial to configure society in a way that eliminates these disparities and responds to the needs of marginalized communities. The authors emphasized the urgent need for recognizing and addressing these disparities, particularly among infants and children, to reduce the number of excess deaths and minimize the pronounced disparity in years of potential life lost.