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

  • Das, Aniruddha
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953612007563
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 77 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 75-83

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:77:y:2013:i:c:p:75-83
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    1. Morenoff, Jeffrey D. & House, James S. & Hansen, Ben B. & Williams, David R. & Kaplan, George A. & Hunte, Haslyn E., 2007. "Understanding social disparities in hypertension prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control: The role of neighborhood context," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(9), pages 1853-1866, November.
    2. Benjamin A. Shaw & Neal Krause & Jersey Liang & Joan Bennett, 2007. "Tracking Changes in Social Relations Throughout Late Life," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 62(2), pages S90-S99.
    3. Melinda L. Drum & Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra & Elyzabeth Gaumer & Stacy T. Lindau, 2009. "Assessment of Smoking Behaviors and Alcohol Use in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 64(suppl_1), pages i119-i130.
    4. Sharon R. Williams & Thomas W. McDade, 2009. "The Use of Dried Blood Spot Sampling in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 64(suppl_1), pages i131-i136.
    5. Sterling, Peter & Eyer, Joe, 1981. "Biological basis of stress-related mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 3-42, January.
    6. Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra & Sara Leitsch & Jessica Graber & Amelia Karraker, 2009. "Quality of Life and Psychological Health Indicators in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 64(suppl_1), pages i30-i37.
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