It's a medical mystery puzzling doctors for about 30 years: Why do Hispanics as a group have better outcomes with certain illnesses, despite less access to health care and higher poverty rates?
A University of Miami study on lung cancer released on Monday confirms the "Hispanic paradox," is still at work — but comes no closer to explaining why. Theories run the gamut from environmental factors to genetic makeup to lower smoking rates.
Yolanda MacDonald, a Cuban woman from Hallandale Beach, has her own explanation: a strong support system.
"When you're so close to death you learn a lot about yourself and value positive people in your life," said MacDonald, who overcame multiple Myeloma eight years ago.
In the UM study, physicians at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center researched 172,398 adult lung cancer cases diagnosed between 1998 and 2007. They found Hispanics had a 15 percent lower risk than others of dying during that time period, whether they were born in the United States or not.
The doctors said Hispanics were more likely to develop a less threatening form of the illness and said more study is needed to determine why.
Other studies have found Hispanics tend to have lower infant mortality rates and better birth outcomes than others in similar socioeconomic situations, said Luisa Franzini, professor of health economics at the University of Texas in Houston. They also have a better survival rate for heart attacks and are less likely to have a second heart attack.