The tendency for Hispanic people to have lower than average rates of some chronic illnesses despite the fact that many of them live in relatively poor social or economic conditions.
The "Hispanic Paradox" will be getting a closer look, thanks to a $92 million National Institutes of Health grant to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The grant will establish the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. The Hispanic Paradox states that, despite their relatively poor socioeconomic conditions, Hispanics tend to have lower rates than whites and other ethnic groups of such chronic illnesses as cancer and heart disease. Researchers such as Dr. Kyriakos Markides, who coined the term, hypothesize that it can be explained by something as-yet unrecognized about Hispanic culture, community and diet.
Richard A. Marini, "Health Watch," San Antonio Express-News, September 22, 2003
Scientists call it the Hispanic epidemiological paradox. Years ago researchers were so puzzled by it they thought it was a statistical quirk. Now everyone concedes it's real, and the goal is to find out why.
Just what this paradox is might be best illustrated by a new study on infant mortality published a few days ago by the National Center for Health Statistics. The study found that for whites there were 8.6 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births, while for blacks the rate was 18.2 (in this study, both categories include Hispanics who identified themselves as either black or white).
But when researchers looked at Hispanics alone, regardless of race, the number dropped to 8.5. So despite a high incidence of poverty and, too often, meager access to medical care, the infant mortality rate of Hispanics is significantly lower than the national average.
This reinforces a trend scientists first noticed some 25 years ago. For a quarter century, the infant mortality rate for Hispanics has been low, Hispanic mothers have been less likely than average to give birth to low-weight babies, and adult Hispanics have been surprisingly healthy. For instance, the Hispanic death rate from cancer and heart disease the two leading killers in the country was 22% and 35% lower, respectively, than the national average.
Roger E. Hernandez, "Hispanic paradox presents challenge," Rocky Mountain News, July 14, 1995
This phrase was at least inspired by, and possibly coined by, K.S. Markides and J. Coreil who wrote a 1986 paper titled, The health of Hispanics in the southwestern United States: an epidemiologic paradox. The phrase often appears in journals in its more long-winded guise: Hispanic epidemiological paradox. Similar variations on the theme are Latino paradox (1999) and Latino epidemiological paradox (1998).