A study published in the January 2013 issue of the medical journal JAMA Surgery finds that African Americans have higher lung cancer mortality rates than whites and that African Americans who live in the most segregated counties in the U.S. have 20% higher mortality rates than African Americans who live in less segregated counties. By contrast, whites who live in more segregated areas have 6% lower mortality rates from lung cancer than whites living in less segregated areas. The gap in outcomes persisted even after accounting for differences in smoking rates and socio-economic status
According to a New York Times article describing the study,
The study was the first to look at segregation as a factor in lung cancer mortality. Its authors said they could not fully explain why it worsens the odds of survival for African-Americans, but hypothesized that blacks in more segregated areas may be less likely to have health insurance or access to health care and specialty doctors. It is also possible that lower levels of education mean they are less likely to seek care early, when medical treatment could make a big difference. Racial bias in the health care system might also be a factor.
Lung cancer is the top cause of preventable death in the United States. Blacks have the highest incidence of it and are also more likely to die from it. For every million black males, 860 will die from lung cancer, compared with 620 among every million white males. The rates were calculated over the period of the study, from 2003 to 2007.
To read the New York Times article on the study, click here. To read the abstract of the JAMA Surgery study, click here.