Medicine isn’t always a straightforward affair. There are mysteries and strange quirks to biology that can make something seemingly contradictory true despite various factors. A notable one is “The Hispanic Paradox”. This exists due to a strange combination of higher lifespans and higher rates of illness among Hispanic populations. It is a medical curiosity. Researchers were uncertain of what might cause this for a long time. Ideas were suggested, but they didn’t appear to pan out much until relatively recently when we began to be able to study epigenetic phenomena. As the study of factors that aren’t necessarily coded directly into our genetics, epigenetics is sometimes looked on as a curiosity, but it continues to prove that it has an appropriate place in the study of genetics by offering insight into what genes express themselves differently. This tendency for different expressions is actually where the solution to The Hispanic Paradox may have been hiding this entire time.
The Hispanic Paradox
We gave a brief note on what the paradox was above, but let’s look into it in a little more detail for a better appreciation of why it was perplexing. The paradox specifically exists within the United States itself as it is observed in Hispanic and Latino communities in that country. It appears to show that, despite a potentially higher rate of illness, the Hispanic and Latino populations tend to have an overall greater potential lifespan than other populations. It is most frequently measured against Caucasian, otherwise known as White, populations. The discrepancy is considered particularly confusing due to the fact that Hispanic and Latino populations tend to live in comparative poverty when compared to White populations. This makes the potential rate of illness make sense due to fewer health care options but leads to the longer lifespans being comparatively confusing. People have proposed multiple potential solutions for the paradox ranging from the health of individuals to more obscure factors. One of the most recent suggested solutions is the epigenetic phenomena we were referring to earlier.
All In The Blood
Strangely enough, it the epigenetic study seems to indicate that the solution to the Hispanic Paradox may be that the blood in Hispanic and Latino populations simply ages slower. Think about what we know about aging. All parts of the body age at different rates depending on how well we treat our body. Various techniques and products exist to keep the skin younger and healthier while other treatments exist to help keep other parts of the body a little sprier as well. A healthy lifestyle where you eat well and exercise routinely helps to keep your entire body more youthful by promoting good blood flow and maintaining the use of muscles. There’s nothing that prevents extra factors from creeping in that make particular parts of your body, including your blood, age just a little bit slower. This would keep systems in the body behaving in a more youthful way for longer. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the secret to longer life is found in the blood of Hispanic and Latino populations, though. There is plenty of criticism for The Hispanic Paradox.
Many professionals argue that the Hispanic Paradox doesn’t even exist. A big reason for this is that the paradox relies on evidence found within a single nation’s population. It makes it seem less reliable on a statistical level. However, statistics are far from done with the phenomena even after that. Making the situation even worse, according to researchers, is the pattern of movement of Hispanic and Latin Americans. There are a fairly large number of temporary workers and citizens who return to their home country over the course of their lives. In particular, researchers like to highlight that many return home during times of illness and infirmity. This affects the statistics available for various studies and would be more than enough to potentially throw off an epigenetic study. To these professionals, the Hispanic Paradox seems like nothing more than an issue with spotty records and improperly recorded mortality rates spread across multiple countries skewing the data to create the illusion of a problem.
The Hispanic Paradox may focus on the apparent longer lives of Hispanic and Latin populations in the United States despite more illness, but it could be little more than an error in statistics. It is hard to track moving populations and to keep track of every representative of given ethnicity as studies typically require self-reporting. Regardless of the truth, the Hispanic Paradox merits more study to determine whether there is any truth to it. Only the future will tell us whether the real lesson is found in the blood or found in statistical errors.