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Race and Health

When Dean Ornish, M.D., spoke with First30Days CEO Ariane de Bonvoisin on Change Nation  he spoke about the importance of eating well, exercising and managing stress to live healthier. But his latest column argues that the stress of experiencing racism can have more to do with one’s overall health than previously thought.
 
Bouncing off Sen. Barack Obama’s speech on race last week, Ornish takes this as an opportunity to look at the research. One study Ornish refers to showed that African-American women who were discriminated against in the workplace were 32% more likely to develop breast cancer. He also pointed to stats that say the life expectancy for a white woman is 81.1 years, while a poor black man is 66.9—a 14-year difference.
 
How can such a huge problem like this be changed? Ornish offers a few suggestions, starting with changing the dialogue we use to talk to each other. “’Just words’ can harm or heal,” he says. He also suggests people work on finding forgiveness, since it doesn’t absolve the person of a deed but merely releases you from the stress of worrying about it. [Newsweek]

Posted: 3/26/08
IrishFaerie49

Wow. That is alarming. I was raised to never discriminate against anyone because of their color,religion,or race. Racism just doesn't exist in my family,yet I have been discriminated against by the huge influx of Mexicans coming in to California, with nothing but hate for the white people here. My family is Irish,and I do have white skin but, I am not totally white. I have brown hair,brown eyes,and naturally light brown skin,yet, when a person from Mexico first lays eyes on me, I see nothing but hate in their eyes. Until, they hear what I have to say. Then, and only then, some, will change their mind and actually try to befriend me. I totally agree that racial discrimination can lead to so much stress that a person could get very ill as a result.