URL of this page: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/podcast/transcript041816.html

To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Income impacts longevity: 04/18/2016

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

While income is associated with longevity, life expectancy differences between wealthy and lower income Americans are not uniform across the nation, finds a pioneering, comprehensive study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study suggests the top one percent in income live 15 years longer than the poorest one percent of Americans. The study also finds the wealthiest Americans gained three years of longevity in the 21st century. Overall, (between 2001-2014) the changes in life expectancy ranged from gains of more than four years to loses of more than two years within different geographic areas.

Moreover, the study found while wealthier Americans comparatively tend to live longer regardless of where they live, this pattern is inconsistent among low-income men and women.

For example, the study's eight authors report the life expectancy for low-income persons in Gary, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Tulsa is significantly lower than for peers who live in New York City, San Jose, and Santa Barbara (among others).

The study's lead author, a Stanford University economist, told the New York Times (and we quote): 'You don't want to just think about why things are going badly for the poor in America. You want to think specifically about why they're going poorly in Tulsa and Detroit,' (end of quote).

The study's eight authors explain (and we quote): 'low-income individuals tend to live longest (and have more healthful behaviors) in cities with highly educated populations, high incomes, and high levels of government expenditures....'(end of quote).

Besides urban patterns, the study found differences in life expectancy (especially among low-income Americans) additionally is associated with healthier behaviors, such as less smoking, better weight control, and more exercise.

The study is a landmark in the history of health disparities research because of its scope; the findings are based on all Americans with a valid social security number between 1999-2014 as well as social security mortality reports.

The study also is important because it identifies income, geographical location and some behaviors are highly associated with longevity and health disparities. Although both income and geography are identified as underlying characteristics on MedlinePlus.gov's health disparities health topic page, the study suggests these may be more important longevity predictors than race, ethnicity, disability, gender, and other variables, which have been identified in previous research.

Other background information about health disparities (from the National Institutes of Health) is available in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's health disparities health topic page. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides a helpful overview of minority health and health disparities within the 'specifics' section of MedlinePlus.gov's health disparities health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's health disparities health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about health disparities as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's health disparities health topic page, please type 'health disparities' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'Health disparities (National Library of Medicine).'

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A disclaimer — the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider.

It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!