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CSPI starts minority health project.

CSPI Starts Minority Health Project

America is a melting pot of different races, religions, and nationalities. This diversity adds an enviable vibrancy and excitement to our culture. But when cultural differences correlate with stark and longstanding differences in well-being, we have cause for concern.

In many respects, minority populations in the U.S. are far less healthy than white Americans. The death rates from stroke and cirrhosis for blacks, for example, are twice as high as those for whites. Blacks are also more likely than whites to die of lung, esophagus, colon, mouth, and throat cancer. Fetal alcohol syndrome is also more common in blacks.

Hispanics, now 19 million strong, are also plagued by certain health problems. Hispanic men, for example, suffer alcohol-related deaths more than twice as frequently as black or white men. And diabetes is three times more prevalent among hispanics.

Though disease hits minorities the hardest, the cigarette and alcohol industries actually target blacks and hispanics for extra-heavy marketing. In inner city neighborhoods across the country, billboards often push liquor. Black magazines typically have a high percentage of cigarette and booze ads. And hard liquor is now advertised predominantly on Spanish-language television.

Worst of all, both industries support and sponsor civic groups ranging from sororities to the Congressional Black Caucus. That much-needed financial support compromises the group's abilities to fight the influence of these industries.

The charts on this page graphically depict some of the serious health problems among U.S. minorities. Rather than being comprehensive, we have focused on risk factors and diseases that are in large part preventable.

It's time these bleak statistics began to change. CSPI is starting a Minority Health Project that couples our nutrition and alcohol expertise with the experience and strength of minority health organizations and civic groups. Just as human effort has wiped out smallpox and rendered other diseases medical curiosities, it should be possible to improve the health of minorities to equal that of whites.

Our new project's advisory board includes members of Congress, consumer activists, and health professionals. Representative John Conyers (D-MI), Jane Delgado, M.D., executive director of COSSMHO, a leading Hispanic health and human services advocacy group, Louis Sullivan, M.D., president of Morehouse Medical School, and activist Dick Gregory are a few of the key individuals who have joined our cause.

The Minority Health Project is counting on your help, too. Write to Michael Jacobson, CSPI, 1501 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036, to get details about the project's early plans and to volunteer your assistance. With your energy, CSPI will succeed in making a minority health project obsolete.
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Title Annotation:Center for Science in the Public Interest
Author:Jacobson, Michael
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Apr 1, 1988
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