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ECOTHERAPY

Those feeling treated unfairly are at high risk of heart disease

BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT


May 17, 2007:

A new study has found that those who think they have been treated unfairly are more likely to have coronary problems.

Those who think they are experiencing the worst injustice are 55% more likely to have a coronary condition than people who think life is fair, according to the report published on May 15, 2007, in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Frequent experiences of unfair treatment can produce psychological distress which, in the long term, may influence health, says the report’s lead author Roberto De Vogli, an epidemiologist at University College, London.

The study, one of the largest and longest of its kind, examined medical data from 6,081 senior civil servants working for the British government in London (The Whitehall Study II). In the early 1990s, they were asked how strongly they agreed with this statement: “I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly.”

Unfair treatment applied to all aspects of their lives, including employment, family, and society in general.

Unfair treatment was also associated with significantly higher levels of poor physical and mental health.

Unlike previous studies, the subjects were questioned before they showed any signs of cardiovascular disease. That way, the results were not distorted by people who thought life was unfair because they were already sick.

The subjects were tracked for an average of 10.9 years. During that time, 387 of them either died of a heart attack, were treated for a nonfatal attack, or were diagnosed with angina.

The researchers found that the rate of cardiac events among civil servants who reported low levels of unfair treatment was 28% higher than for those who had no complaints. People who reported moderate unfairness saw their risk rise by 36%.

Nancy Krieger, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, says the study adds to a growing field of research linking poor cardiovascular and mental health to racial and gender discrimination – two significant sources of unfair treatment.

People who think they are victims of discrimination often respond by drinking, smoking or overeating, all of which would badly affect health.

Nadia Wager, a senior lecturer in psychology at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College in Britain, is of the opinion that the unfairness question could be a helpful addition to routine medical checkups.

The study was funded primarily by health agencies in the British and United States governments.

The authors conclude that fairness is key to promoting a healthier society.

BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT

 

 

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