Healthy Hispanic adults live longer than other ethnicities, study says

Women also outlive men as a result of slower aging of blood and brain tissues, suggesting a possible reason for the longer life expectancy, UCLA researchers report.
By Stephen Feller  |  Aug. 16, 2016 at 4:51 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Despite higher rates of diabetes and other diseases, Hispanic people live longer than other ethnicities, according to researchers in Los Angeles.

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles report the blood of Hispanics ages slower than that of white people, as well as most other ethnicities, which researchers said may help inform other studies of aging and disease.

Men's blood and brain tissue also ages faster than that of women in the same ethnic group, researchers also found, which may help explain why women have a higher life expectancy than men, according to the study, published in the journal Genome Biology.

The findings may help explain several controversial epidemiological paradoxes, researchers write in the study, including the Hispanic paradox -- living longer despite higher rates of certain diseases -- as well as the black-white mortality cross-over, the Tsimane inflammation paradox and the sex morbidity-mortality paradox.

"Our findings strongly suggest that genetic or environmental factors linked to ethnicity may influence how quickly a person ages and how long they live," Dr. Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, said in a press release.

For the study, researchers analyzed DNA from blood, saliva and lymphoblastoid cell lines, as well as brain datasets, for 1,387 people of African ancestry from both the United States and from Central Africa, 2,932 non-Hispanic white people, 657 Hispanic people, 127 East Asians who were mainly Han Chinese and 59 Tsimane Amerindians who live in Bolivia. The researchers also used an epigentic clock developed by Horvath to track aging in the genome.

The researchers report their analysis confirms the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's estimates that Hispanics live about three years longer than white people.

When comparing the Tsimane population, the researchers found their blood aged about two years slower than Hispanic people's blood and four years slower than that of white people. The researchers say this understanding helps inform the Tsimane inflammation paradox, which notes that despite high levels of inflammation and infection, the Tsimane show little evidence of chronic diseases often linked to either.

The black-white mortality crossover -- that after age 85, black men and women have a pattern of lower mortality that white people, despite higher patterns at younger ages -- was not explained by the study, though the researchers say other differences in blood and cell aging may have something to do with it.

In terms of the sex morbitity-mortality paradox, the researchers say the new study suggests the paradox is not simply related to differences in lifestyle between the sexes and may also have a physiological explanation.

Overall, the researchers say they did not find great variation in the pace of aging between ethnicities -- aside from confirming the Hispanic Paradox.

"Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer to this as the 'Hispanic paradox,'" Horvath said. "Our study helps explain this by demonstrating that Latinos age more slowly at the molecular level."

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