Racism, Bad for Your Health

By Terry Keleher May 15, 2007

A new report just released in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health finds a link between the perception of unfairness in medical treatment and fatal coronary heart disease. People who experienced injustice and felt unfairly treated were 55 percent more likely to suffer from a coronary event than people who felt life was fair, according to the report. The study assessed medical data from more than 6,000 British civil servants who were asked how strongly they agreed with the statement, “I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly.” After controlling for other baseline variables, the report concludes that, “Unfairness is an independent predictor of increased coronary events and impaired health functioning.” The report’s abstract makes no mention of racism. But, given the intense and chronic feelings associated with experiencing racial injustice, I’d be interested in seeing that dynamic specifically examined in future medical studies–especially in the U.S.