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Australian Aboriginal morbidity & mortality

Gene Expression
By Razib Khan
Jan 30, 2009 3:09 AMNov 5, 2019 9:34 AM


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A few years ago PLoS Medicine published Eight Americas: Investigating Mortality Disparities across Races, Counties, and Race-Counties in the United States. The results were: -- Asian-Americans, per capita income of $21,566, life expectancy of 84.9 years. -- Northland low-income rural Whites, $17,758, 79 years. -- Middle America (mostly White), $24,640, 77.9 years. -- Low-income Whites in Appalachia, Mississippi Valley, $16,390, 75 years. -- Western American Indians, $10,029, 72.7 years. -- Black Middle America, $15,412, 72.9 years. -- Southern low-income rural Blacks, $10,463, 71.2 years. -- High-risk urban Blacks, $14,800, 71.1 years. That's a 13.8 year difference between inner city blacks and Asian Americans. Now, from The health and welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2003:

...Indigenous life expectancy at birth is 20 years less than for the total population, 56 years for Indigenous males compared to 77 years for all Australian males and 63 years for Indigenous females compared to 82 years for all Australian females for the period 1999-2001....

Read the whole report for the greatly increased rates of alcoholism and other morbidity and mortality enhancing behaviors among indigenous Australians, but check out this breakdown of various increased risks for diseases (adapted from Wikipedia, but the source is the report linked above):

I want to emphasize the increased rates of communicable diseases. Some of these, such as the venereal diseases, have behavior-based causes. On the other hand, the susceptibility to tuberculosis is probably in part a function of the fact that Australian Aboriginals have had less exposure to a variety of Eurasian diseases in their evolutionary history.

Health problemComparative incidence rateComment

Circulatory system diseases2 to 10-fold

5 to 10-fold increase in rheumatic heart disease and hypertensive disease, 2-fold increase in other heart disease, 3-fold increase in death from circulatory system disorders. Circulatory system diseases account for 24% deaths....

Renal failure2 to 3-fold

2 to 3-fold increase in listing on the dialysis and transplant registry, up to 30-fold increase in end stage renal disease, 8-fold increase in death rates from renal failure, 2.5% of total deaths....

Communicable diseases10 to 70-fold

10-fold increase in tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus, 20-fold increase in Chlamydia, 40-fold increase in Shigellosis and Syphilis, 70-fold increase in Gonococcal infections

Diabetes3 to 4-fold

11% incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Indigenous Australians, 3% in non-Indigenous population. 18% of total indigenous deaths....

Cot death2 to 3-fold

Over the period 1999-2003, in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, the national cot death rate for infants was three times the rate

Mental health2 to 5-fold

5-fold increase in drug-induced mental disorders, 2-fold increase in diseases such as schizophrenia, 2 to 3-fold increase in suicide....


A 2-fold increase in cataracts

Respiratory disease3 to 4-fold

3 to 4-fold increased death rate from respiratory disease accounting for 8% of total deaths

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