The Social Patterns of a Biological Risk Factor for Disease: Race, Gender, Socioeconomic Position, and C-Reactive Protein

Pamela Herd, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Amelia Karraker, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Elliot Friedman, University of Wisconsin at Madison

This paper seeks to determine how fundamental causes of disease, especially race, get ‘underneath the skin.’ What is going on, at the biological level, which can help us understand persistent disparities in health? Using the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) data, a study of older Americans aged 57-85, this study examines the link between race and C-reactive Protein (CRP). Gender plays a critical role in explaining racial differences in CRP. While socioeconomic position better explains higher levels of CRP among Black men as compared to White men, healthy behaviors better explain higher levels of CRP among Black women as compared to White women. These findings are also striking, however, because of the strength of these racial differences and the relatively small explanatory power of generally powerful socioeconomic and healthy behavior mediators.

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Presented in Poster Session 2