“The bottom line is that researchers did not think the data was real. Their hypothesis was that maybe the data was wrong and that in someway the death certificates were off, or Hispanics would leave the United States and go to another country to die and their deaths were never recorded, or those with the best health came to the U.S.,” explained Ruiz. “It remained controversial for roughly two decades, and it gained a lot of attention in about 2013. But today, the Hispanic Health Paradox is increasingly accepted as fact,” said Ruiz who has studied the paradox for a decade.
In 2011-12, Ruiz said he did a meta-analysis compiling data from 58 studies that represented 4.6 million people in the United States, and the longitudinal study showed the hypothesis was correct. The researcher’s findings and writings were published in medical, public health and psychological journals.
“The Hispanic Health Paradox in general says Hispanics tend to live longer than other groups. They also tend to survive in the context of disease, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other conditions,” said Ruiz.
“That leads us to our study that we are launching now that seeks to understand why we are seeing these effects and what is causing them,” he said. Late-stage lung cancer patients will be studied because lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States,” said Ruiz of the research that will start in January with 20 investigators spread out over the six cities. As people are diagnosed mostly at academic medical centers, they will be recruited into the study that will answer if Hispanic patients survive longer than non-Hispanic patients, and to what degree do social factors influence that outcome.