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Cate Swannell
Med J Aust 2016; 205 (4): 148. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.n1508
Published online: 15 August 2016

Physical damage caused by racism

A growing body of research now links experiencing racism to poorer health outcomes — from depression to low-birth weight to cardiovascular disease, reports Wired. “Experiencing racism, whether it’s violence or insults or more subtle snubbing, makes life more difficult. That added stress becomes ‘allostatic load’, which disrupts the normal function of the body: more stress means more cortisol in the body means more cardiovascular disease. In a 2012 study, researchers compared the performance of students trying to solve a simple task after they had experienced subtle or blatant racism from the person at the desk next to them. The subtle stuff — having someone inch away while sitting next to the student — was a bigger drag on performance than the blatant bigotry. Uncertainty about racism in a situation can sometimes make it worse.” Naa Oyo Kwate, a psychologist and professor of Africana at Rutgers University in New Jersey said: “The literature is quite consistent. The more racism you experience, the worse your health experience in a number of domains. So much of what people contend with is not just their individual experience, but also their family and friends and broader society with the police killings.”

New deaths from avian flu

The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission has notified the World Health Organization of seven laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, including four deaths, the WHO reports. “Onset dates range from 26 May to 23 June. The cases range in age from 52 to 68 years, with a median age of 61 years. Of these seven cases, four (57%) are male. The majority (five cases, 71%) reported exposure to live poultry, slaughtered poultry or live poultry markets. One case has no history of exposure to poultry and the remaining case worked in a market where live poultry is sold. No human to human transmission was reported.”

  • Cate Swannell


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