JANUARY 10, 2014
A taxpayer-funded study has determined that racism may accelerate aging in African-American men, especially in those who have experienced “high levels of discrimination” and those who “internalized anti-Black attitudes.”
Conducted by the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Public Health (SPH), the study is earth-shattering because it’s the first to link racism-related factors and biological aging, according to the researchers that conducted it. In fact, the academics at the public university claim theirs is the first work to link “racism-related factors and cellular age.”
Ninety two African American men between the ages of 30 and 50 participated and were asked about their experiences of discrimination at work, in housing, involving police and getting services at stores or restaurants. Racial bias was measured using a “Black-White Implicit Association Test,” according to the UMD press release announcing the findings. The test gauges “unconscious attitudes and beliefs about race groups that people may be unaware of or unwilling to report.”
The study goes into complicated specifics involving DNA capping, chromosomes and other scientific data that may be over most people’s heads. Bottom line, a fancy biomarker of systemic aging with a sophisticated scientific name was clear; African-American men who experienced greater racial discrimination and who displayed a stronger bias against their own racial group aged quicker.
The faster pace of aging, in turn, is associated with increased risk of premature death and chronic disease such as diabetes, dementia, stroke and heart disease, according to the lead researcher. Even after adjusting for participants’ chronological age, socioeconomic factors, and health-related characteristics, investigators found that the combination of high racial discrimination and anti-black bias was associated with aging faster. African American men with “more positive views of their racial group may be buffered from the negative impact of racial discrimination” and therefore don’t age as quickly.
The findings are timely in light of media reports of racism against African American men, including racial profiling, police stop-and-frisk policies and “driving or shopping while black,” the UMD announcement says. Of course, “additional research” is needed, including “larger studies that follow participants over time.” That means U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for the cost. For now, we have confirmed that “social toxins disproportionately impacting African American men are harmful to health,” says the lead researcher, Dr. David Chae.
He made sure to tow the Obama administration line, saying that racial disparities in health are well-documented, with African Americans having shorter life expectancy and a greater likelihood of suffering from aging-related illnesses at younger ages compared to whites. This study appears to be part of a broader government effort that has poured hundreds of millions of dollars to address health disparities between minorities and whites.
Everything from depression to edentulism (lack of natural teeth), obesity, mental disorders, asthma and cancer is more prevalent among poor minorities, according to the government’s assessment. Even childhood attention deficit disorder hits low-income minorities harder and practically every chronic disease known to man strikes them at much greater rates than educated whites. Naturally, the administration feels it has an obligation to take action.
It has dedicated more than $100 million to help lower chronic diseases—such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease—“disproportionately seen among poor and minority populations,” thousands to create a mobile device application to reduce cancer among women of color and hundreds of thousands more for various other minority health causes. The president even established half a dozen federal Offices of Minority Health as well as one for each state. This indicates the cash will keep flowing for projects like the racism age accelerator study.
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