New Study Shows Racism May Shorten Black Americans’ Lifespans

Articles | February 6 2020

By Liam Knox

African Americans who reported more experiences with racial discrimination are likely to age faster, adding to evidence that racism is not only a “social and moral dilemma” but also a “public health issue,” according to an Auburn University study published last month.

According to the study, encountering racism can lead to higher levels of stress, which in turn causes cells to age more rapidly. The adverse health effects of racism on African Americans are well documented, but the Auburn study focuses on its effects on telomeres, pieces of DNA that protect cells.

The results show a link between increased experiences with racial discrimination and the more rapid shortening of those telomeres, an indication of cell aging.

“Our results point to how racial discrimination, a particular type of social toxin that disproportionately impacts African Americans, becomes embedded at the cellular level,” David Chae, director of Auburn’s Society, Health and Racial Equity Lab, who led the research team, said in a statement. (Read more)