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Sunday, September 6, 2015
The lives people live can affect their health and lifespan. African American men are no exception. For these men, sickness and death are most often due to the "deadly quartet":
In the United States, African American men between the ages of 24 to 40 are much more likely to die from homicides than any other ethnic group.1 Death rates for blacks are almost 3 times higher than whites.1 James Gilligan, M.D. has observed a link between this increased death rate and the social & economic conditions of society, such as poverty, unemployment and education.1
AIDS stands for acquired immunodefiency syndrome but you may know it by the term "the virus." Currently, about 1/3 of all Americans who have AIDS are African American. There are several ways the virus is passed from one person to another: sharing needles in IV drug use, blood transfusion (rare) and sexual contact, including oral, vaginal and anal sex. AIDS transmitted through male-to-male sexual contact is considered the silent epidemic among black men given that "homosexuality in the African American community is never talked about."
Smoking is a major cause of preventable disease in African American men including heart disease, cancer and stroke (Video). Tobacco related cancers account for almost half of new cancer cases in black men and about 1/3 of cancer deaths. In fact, the cancer death rate among black men has a higher rate of increase than any other ethnic group in this country. By eliminating tobacco use, most of these deaths could be prevented.2
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among black men.3 Prostate cancer occurs more often in black men than any other ethnic group in the world and, once discovered, black men die more frequently from the disease.3 When this cancer is diagnosed early, it may be cured. It is not known why this cancer is so common and more deadly in African American men. There may be links to environmental factors, such as diet and limited access to medical care, preventing early detection and treatment.
Sickness and death from the "deadly quartet" can be prevented or be significantly reduced by early detection. Here are some practical tips to help you live healthier.
1Gilligan, James. Violence: reflections on a national epidemic. Random House, 1996.
2American Cancer Society. Cancer facts and figures 1993, p.10-21.
3US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2000. National health promotion and disease prevention objectives. Public Health Service, 1991, p. 418.
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Last Reviewed: Oct 04, 2011
Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Dean of Student Services
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University