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Election Results Could Be Harming Americans' Health

Review of Obama and Trump wins suggests impact on stress, disease levels

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THURSDAY, June 8, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A new analysis suggests that ballot box results may rob some of the American public of its health, driving up stress levels, disease incidence, premature births, and even premature deaths. The medicine and society article was published in the June 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

David Williams, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and coauthor Morgan Medlock, M.D., a psychiatrist from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, conducted a review which found that the last three presidential elections were associated with a notable increase in racial resentment and animosity, anti-minority rhetoric, and hostility towards immigrants.

One study found that hate speech websites have grown in number since Obama's first election. And a 2016 survey of 2,000 elementary and high school teachers revealed that half have seen their students become "emboldened" when it comes to using racist and ethnic slurs. Two-thirds of the teachers said many students -- particularly those who are immigrants or from immigrant and/or Muslim families -- were scared about what could happen to them following the November 2016 election.

Some of the studies in the analysis suggested that those who live in communities where racial prejudice is high face an elevated risk for disease and even death. For example, University of California, Berkeley researchers found that "high prejudice" jurisdictions had the highest incidence of heart disease. Another study found that communities deemed high prejudice (anti-gay) saw the death rate of lesbian, gay, and bisexual men and women triple. Another investigation indicated that post-9/11 harassment and discrimination against Arab-Americans went up in tandem with psychological distress. And a University of Chicago study found that Arab-American women in California faced a rise in their risk for premature birth and/or low birth weight babies in the six months after 9/11.

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