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How does race get “under the skin”?: Inflammation, weathering, and metabolic problems in late life

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  • Das, Aniruddha

Abstract

Using nationally representative data from the 2005–2006 U.S. National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, this study queries the mechanisms underlying worse metabolic outcomes—blood-sugar control and cardiovascular health—among black than white men ages 57–85. Results indicate that contrary to much of the academic literature as well as media accounts—implicitly rooted in a “culture of irresponsibility” model—older black men's social isolation, poor health behaviors, or obesity may not play a major role in their worse metabolic problems. Instead, these outcomes seem to derive more consistently from a factor almost unexamined in the literature—chronic inflammation, arguably a biological “weathering” mechanism induced by these men's cumulative and multi-dimensional stress. These findings highlight the necessity of focusing attention not simply on proximal behavioral interventions, but on broader stress-inducing social inequalities, to reduce men's race disparities in health.

Suggested Citation

  • Das, Aniruddha, 2013. "How does race get “under the skin”?: Inflammation, weathering, and metabolic problems in late life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 75-83.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:77:y:2013:i:c:p:75-83
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.11.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Sterling, Peter & Eyer, Joe, 1981. "Biological basis of stress-related mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 3-42, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pollock, Anne & Jones, David S., 2015. "Coronary artery disease and the contours of pharmaceuticalization," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 221-227.

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