Life expectancy in Downey estimated at 80.9 years

DOWNEY - Downey residents can expect to live to about 80.9 years, slightly higher than the national average mortality rate, according to a report released this week by Los Angeles County Public Health.The report ranked Los Angeles County cities and communities based on their life expectancies, using data from the 2000 census and an "Economic Hardship Index," which measures population, per capita income, employment, education levels, and other criteria. La Canada Flintridge topped the list with an average life that reaches 87.8 years. At the bottom was the South Los Angeles community of Westmont, where residents live an average of 72.4 years. "The findings are sobering. The dramatic variation seen across the county begs the basic question: Why do such significant disparities exist?" said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for Los Angeles County. "For example, why should an unincorporated community in South Los Angeles (Westmont) have an average life expectancy that is 10 years lower than a city (Culver City) only 10 miles away? One important factor reflected in the report is the finding that reduced life expectancy is strongly related to community-level economic conditions." Although life expectancy has risen steadily over the last 20 years, there still remains a nearly 18-year difference in the life expectancy between black men and Asian females (69.4 vs. 86.9 years, respectively). According to the report, a person's physical environment may also affect his or her health. Poorer neighborhoods may have fewer grocery stores, thus less access to fruits and vegetables. Dense neighborhoods may also lack parks or outdoor areas for children and families to play. Some studies also suggest that residents of lower income and ethnic minority neighborhoods may be at increased risk for exposure to toxic environmental hazards in their community. In Los Angeles County, coronary heart disease was the top killer among men and women. Men were also likely to die from homicide, motor vehicle crash, liver disease, suicide or a drug overdose. In addition to heart disease, top killers for women included breast cancer, motor vehicle crashes, strokes and lung cancer.

********** Published: July 29, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 15