Men's Mortality In TN Often Determined By Race, Geography

Jun 11, 2014


  The way in which a man dies in Tennessee may have to do with where he lives.  Or the color of his skin.  

A new report by Vanderbilt University, Meharry Medical College and the Tennessee Department of Health shows a man's mortality is affected by several factors.  Some, like tobacco use and lifestyle are predictable indicators of a man's death.  But others, like ethnicity and geography are less obvious.

For instance, the 2014 Tennessee Men's Health Report Card shows men in Northwestern Tennessee have higher cancer rates than men in other parts of the state.  Meanwhile, men who live in the Nashville area are less likely to die from heart disease than their brethren to the west.

At the same time, African American men in Tennessee are more likely than white men to die from prostate cancer or HIV.  White men tend to die more from traffic accidents, drug overdose and suicide.  And Hispanic men show higher rates of death from colorectal cancer and kidney disease.  

"We don't have good explanations for why some areas of the state have such different rates of heart disease and cancer when compared with other parts of the state," said Derek Griffith, Director of Vanderbilt's Institute for Research on Men's Health.  "You have geographic differences and racial and ethnic differences that we just don't have good answers for so it really does warrant bringing together communities in the state to explore why these patterns are the way they are and what we can do about them as a state."

Overall, heart disease (24.7%) and cancer (24.4%) are still the two biggest killer of Tennessee's men.  The report suggests the state has seen some improvement in heart disease rates over the past five years, but cancer rates in Tennessee remain high.  Cancer is disproportionately high among black men.