A number of scientists have mentioned before that Latinos have a longer life span than other ethnic groups – even though they have higher rates of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.
A recent study by the University of California Los Angeles and Santa Barbara may have discovered the reason why and it’s in their DNA.
The Hispanic Paradox
The study may be able to explain the “Hispanic paradox,” which is a term coined by the UCLA researchers for the longevity of the Latinos. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos residing in the US have an average lifespan of 82 years versus 79 years for white people who don’t belong in the group.
The goals of the study included:
- Understanding why Latinos live longer despite being susceptible to many health problems
- Learning if it is possible to slow down the aging process for everyone
- Gaining greater comprehension regarding epigenetic changes, which are external factors that could impact our DNA
- Gaining someexplanationswhy we age differently
The study gathered blood samples from over 6,000 people, including from the:
- East Asians
- Tsimane (natives in Bolivia)
The researchers used epigenetic clock, a statistical model that calculates the speed of cellular aging. After studying the blood samples and the participants’ socioeconomic status, the scientists discovered that the Latinos as well as the Tsimane didn’t age as rapidly as the other groups. An example is that post-menopausal, non-Latino women were 2.4 years older than Latino American women even if they’re of the same age.
So why do Latinos live longer than most ethnic groups? The study concluded that their longevity is related to their heritage, which can have something to do with their environment and/or their genetics. It therefore contributes to their lifespan, serving as protection even though they have higher health risks, including obesity and diseases caused by inflammation. The researchers noted that Latinos have strong family ties and this may be a huge contributing factor. Having a good social support network may decrease psychosocial stress and can therefore reduce aging.
About the Tsimane
Meanwhile, the other group, Tsimane from Bolivia, actually age more slowly even compared to the Latinos. This group doesn’t just age slower than most ethnic groups, but also have lower rates of health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Another thing is that the researchers found that women’s blood aged slower than men even if they’re of the same ethnic group, which probably explains why women outlive men.