CHICAGO (Reuters) - Hispanics in the United States outlive whites by 2-1/2 years and blacks by nearly eight years, U.S. government researchers said on Wednesday, and other experts said clean living may play a role.
They said the life expectancy for a Hispanic baby at birth is nearly 81, compared with 78 years for non-Hispanic white babies and just under 73 for black babies.
As a population, U.S. residents born in 2006 can expect to live 77.7 years, according to the new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.
It shows that Hispanics have a higher life expectancy at nearly all ages, even though Hispanics in the United States tend to be poorer than the population as a whole.
"Although seemingly paradoxical, these results are consistent with the findings of numerous studies which show a Hispanic mortality advantage despite this population's lower socioeconomic status," Elizabeth Arias of the CDC, who wrote the report, said in a statement.
In spite of having less education and access to care, Latinos have a 35 percent lower risk of death from heart disease, a 40 percent lower risk of cancer, and a 25 percent lower risk of stroke than the general population, said David Hayes-Bautista of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the University of California Los Angeles.
Hayes-Bautista said the reasons are not yet clear, but he thinks it is likely due to culture and behavioral differences rather than genetics, given that U.S. Hispanics are such a diverse group.
"Latinos compared to non-Hispanic whites are far less likely to smoke, drink and use drugs," he said.
"Clearly, it is not driven by income and education."
Other findings from the report:
* Hispanic males at birth have a life expectancy of nearly 78, and if they reach the age of 65, their life expectancy is 84 years. For Hispanic females, life expectancy at birth is 83 years, and that jumps to nearly 87 if they live to be age 65.
* For white males in the United States, life expectancy at birth was 75 and rose to 82 years if they reach age 65. For white women, life expectancy at birth was just over 80 years but rose to nearly 85 once they have made it to 65.
* For black males, life expectancy at birth was 69, and 80 years once they reach age 65. Life expectancy for black females was 76 at birth, and 83 years if they reach age 65.
Editing by Eric Beech