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Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 01:57 PM
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Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

By Larry Adelman
Creator and Executive Producer of 'Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

Real people have problems with their lives as well as with their organs. Those social problems affect their organs. In order to improve public health, we need to improve society.Sir Michael Marmot, Chair, World Health Organization Commission on the Social Determinants of Health

For all the talk of the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us, one issue has escaped scrutiny. And thats health. Not health care, but health.

Some 47 million of us have no health care. Inexcusable. But health care, as Canadian health economist Robert Evans points out, is our repair shop, where we take our bodies when they break down. But whats wearing down our engines and making us sick in the first place? And why is that wear and tear so differentially distributed by race and by class?

Thats where inequality comes into play. We pour billions of dollars into drugs, dietary supplements and new medical technologies, and focus on what we as individuals can do to be healthier. But a growing body of evidence suggests there is much more to our health than bad habits, our meds or unlucky genes.

Written into our bodies is an accumulation of conditions that start in childhood and can lead to a pile-up of risk for some, a cascade of advantage for others. Harvard epidemiologist Nancy Krieger says, We interact constantly with the world in which were engaged. Thats the way in which the biology actually happens. We carry our history in our bodies. How can we not?

The social, physical and economic environments in which we are born, live and work can actually get under our skin as surely as germs and viruses. Because these conditions are distributed unequallyin the jobs we do, the wealth we enjoy, the schools we attend, the neighborhoods we inhabit, the power we have to manage our livesso are our patterns of health and disease, particularly stroke, heart disease, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease and even some cancers.

FULL story at link.

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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 03:19 PM
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1. According to the report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ... yes
US society helping to make people sicker

Americans should be living four years longer at current rates of healthcare spending, signalling that US society is helping to make people sicker, a report on health inequality said on Thursday.

The report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), an influential US philanthropy, presented new evidence of widening disparities in health between income levels in the United States.

The nations poorest adults were nearly five times more likely to be in "poor or fair" health as the richest - 31 per cent versus 6.6 per cent - and at every income level the wealthier group was healthier than the next lower one.

This trend of declining health according to income was seen in all race groups. Although socioeconomic factors are harshest on the poorest, the report said, economic inequality has increased in the United States and the middle-class has lost ground.

Financial Times
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 03:39 PM
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2. Definitely yes, in so many ways.
It's the elephant in the room.
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