Study finds strong ethnic neighborhoods can boost health of seniors

November 20, 2012

A new study from the Mailman School of Public Health suggests that African-American and Mexican-American seniors are less likely to have cancer or heart disease if they live in an ethnically homogeneous community.

Contrary to earlier studies, the researchers found that "living in the barrio or ethnically dense communities isn't always bad for your health," said Kimberly Alvarez, a Ph.D. candidate at Mailman who conducted the study with Becca Levy, associate professor of epidemiology and psychology at the Yale School of Public Health.

The researchers used survey data from 2,367 Mexican-Americans and 2,790 African-Americans over age 65 living in communities with high percentages of residents of the same .

Among African-Americans, those living in a county with an ethnic density of 50 percent or more were 46 percent less likely to report doctor-diagnosed heart disease and 77 percent less likely to report cancer than those who lived in a community with an ethnic density of less than 25 percent. Mexican-Americans living in a county with an ethnic density of 50 percent or more were 33 percent and 62 percent less likely to report heart disease and cancer, respectively, than those who lived in a community with an ethnic density of less than 25 percent.

Cultural factors such as respect for elders and close-knit families could help explain the phenomenon. "These networks may facilitate better and, in turn, better ," Alvarez said.

The study was published online last month in the .

Explore further: Living in ethnically homogenous area boosts health of minority seniors

Related Stories

Racial make-up of community impacts obesity risk

June 27, 2012

The racial and ethnic composition of a community is associated with the obesity risk of individuals living within the community, according to a study led by researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) ...

Recommended for you

Can nicotine protect the aging brain?

September 20, 2016

Everyone knows that tobacco products are bad for your health, and even the new e-cigarettes may have harmful toxins. However, according to research at Texas A&M, it turns out the nicotine itself—when given independently ...

Science can shape healthy city planning

September 23, 2016

Previous studies have shown a correlation between the design of cities and growing epidemics of injuries and non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A three-part series published in The Lancet ...

50-country comparison of child and youth fitness levels

September 21, 2016

An international research team co-led from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the University of North Dakota studied the aerobic fitness levels of children and youth across 50 countries. The results are ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.