The public generally believes that poor lifestyle choices, faulty genes and infectious agents are the major factors that give rise to illness.
Research now tells us that lower socio-economic status may be more harmful to health than risky personal habits...
I recently saw a billboard for an employment service that said, "If you think cigarette smoking is bad for your health, try a dead-end job." This warning may not just be an advertising quip: public health research now tells us that lower socio-economic status may be more harmful to health than risky personal habits, such as smoking or eating junk food.
In 1967, British epidemiologist Michael Marmot began to study the relationship between poverty and health. He showed that each step up or down the socio-economic ladder correlates with increasing or decreasing health.
Over time, research linking health and wealth became more nuanced. It turns out that "what matters in determining mortality and health in a society is less the overall wealth of that society and more how evenly wealth is distributed. The more equally wealth is distributed, the better the health of that society," according to the editors of the April 20, 1996 issue of the British Medical Journal. In that issue, American epidemiologist George Kaplan and his colleagues showed that the disparity of income in each of the individual U.S. states, rather than the average income per state, predicted the death rate.(more from AlterNet)
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