American's life expectancy has increased over the past few decades, but African American males still have the shortest average life span as a result of homicide and heart disease.
The gap in mortality rates between the black and white populations has been closing, but African American's average life expectancy at birth is still 3.8 years shorter, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report revealed.
White females have the highest life expectancy, followed by black females, white males, and black males with the lowest life span.
Black males had an estimated life expectancy that was 4.7 years shorter than the white male population.
"Heart disease, homicide, cancer, stroke, and perinatal conditions accounted for 65% of the black male disadvantage," the report said.
"We expected heart disease and cancer, those are still the main focus, but what's interesting is when you look at the graph for males, you see how important homicide is for directly affecting life expectancy for African-Americans," Kenneth D. Kochanek, lead author of the CDC report said, according to the NBC blog.
Homicide decreased African American male's life expectancy by close to a year, surpassed as leading cause of death by hearth disease.
"We have to look at [violence and homicide] like a disease," Dr. Robert Gore, emergency medical physician at Kings County-SUNY Downstate Hospitals said. "There are over 700,000 reported violent acts per year involving U.S. youth presenting to our hospitals. We have to stop looking at violence as a purely social problem."
Violence was the number one cause of death in the between 10 and 24 age group, according to the report.
The gap between the two demographics would have been larger had it not been for "suicide, unintentional injuries, and Chronic lower respiratory diseases," which were more prevalent in the white population.
"When we in the medical community started looking at motor vehicle accident deaths and looked at the factors that contributed to death -- speeding, low car safety standards, not wearing seatbelts, driving while intoxicated -- changes were made to legislation to enforce driving with seatbelts, lower the speed limit, and encourage sober driving, and the number of MVA deaths decreased. The same needs to happen with violence and homicide," Gore said, NBC reported.