Racial Discrimination Tied to RBC Oxidative Stress Levels

African-Americans who face racial discrimination have higher levels of oxidative stress than whites

THURSDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Self-reported racial discrimination is significantly associated with red blood cell (RBC) oxidative stress, with the association remaining statistically significant for African-Americans but not whites, after stratifying by race, according to a study published online Sept. 13 in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

Sarah L. Szanton, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues investigated the cross-sectional association between self-reported racial discrimination and RBC oxidative stress in a biracial, socioeconomically heterogenous cohort of 629 participants (mean age, 49 years) from the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span study. Racial discrimination was self-reported, and fluorescent heme degradation products were used to measure RBC oxidative stress. Age, smoking status, obesity, and C-reactive protein were the potential confounders.

The investigators found that racial discrimination correlated significantly with RBC oxidative stress, after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity, and C-reactive protein in a multivariable regression analysis (Beta = 0.55). Stratification by race indicated that racial discrimination remained significantly associated with RBC oxidative stress for African-Americans (Beta = 0.36), but not for whites.

"These findings suggest that there may be identifiable cellular pathways by which racial discrimination amplifies cardiovascular and other age-related disease risks," the authors write.

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