CDC Report on Life Expectancy—Latinos Live Longest. What Might This Tell Us About Medicine?November 9, 2010
A new government report reveals that even though Hispanic Americans have lower income and less health insurance, they live longer than non-Hispanic whites (the most medically insured group in the US).
There are a number of guesses as to why Latinos are living longer. One is that Hispanics who manage to immigrate to the US are among the healthiest from their countries. Tight-knit social communities and more physical activity could also play a role in life expectancy. Let’s consider another possibility.
The common perception is that income, education, and access to health insurance are the most important factors for longevity, but these recent findings turn that assumption upside down. In fact, the revelation that Latinos lack health insurance at a rate higher than other groups (they are two to three times as likely to be uninsured as the rest of the population) may be significant. Could the very avoidance of modern medicine be keeping US Latinos alive longer?
What is indisputable is that Western medicine is killing people prematurely. Statin drugs make us vulnerable to foodborne illnesses, and make us deficient in the vital nutrient vitamin D and COQ10. The latter deficiency can make us vulnerable to heart failure. Chemotherapy causes and hastens cancer deaths.
Medical errors are the number one killer in America, ahead of heart disease, cancer, and more. As Gary Null wrote in his book Death by Medicine, “The number of people who die each day because of medical errors—physician mistakes, hospital-related illness, and reactions to FDA-approved medications—is the equivalent of six jumbo jets falling out of the sky. More Americans are dying each year at the hands of medicine than all American casualties in WWI and the Civil War combined.”
Another possibility is diet. Traditional Latino diets, although far from perfect, are much better than the modern American diet with its reliance on sodas, junk food, and fast food. If this is a key factor, it ought to be possible to pinpoint by looking inside the data. But if it were just diet, why do Latinos suffer from some diseases at higher rates than non-Hispanic whites, including diabetes and heart disease, but die from these diseases at a lower, not a higher rate? That fact alone might suggest that the standard medical treatments available through health insurance are backfiring.