Among Hispanics, Puerto Ricans seem to have worst health

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Among Hispanic groups in the United States, Puerto Ricans appear to have the worst health, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its most comprehensive report on Hispanic health, drawing from earlier research. But it also offered new details on differences among Hispanic populations in the U.S. About 1 in 6 Americans is Hispanic.

(Photo: CDC)

Among the findings:

(Photo: CDC)

The higher smoking rate is driving up the Puerto Rican death and disease rates.

"We think it's the biggest reason" why Puerto Ricans look so unhealthy compared to other Hispanics, said the CDC's Dr. Ken Dominguez, lead author of the report.

The analysis was specific to Hispanics living in the 50 states and did not include residents of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. The data used for the report came from health surveys and death certificates and covered the years 2009 through 2013.

Puerto Ricans represent about 10 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population. Mexican-Americans account for 64 percent, Cuban-Americans are 4 percent, Dominicans, 3 percent.

In the U.S., Hispanics overall live longer than whites or blacks. Researchers call that the "Hispanic paradox," in which a population with a larger share of poor and uneducated people manages to surpass the life the expectancy of other groups. One leading theory is that Hispanics who immigrate to the U.S. are among the healthiest from their countries. The paradox also may be at least partly due to lower smoking rates in immigrant Hispanics, CDC officials said.