Unnatural Causes: In Sickness and in Wealth

Why are we as a society allowing something as important as someone’s life be determine by class? This documentary episode dives into multiple different storylines that show trends in poverty level and health. The main idea that I took away from the anecdotes told was that people’s health conditions are not coincidence, they are a result of their financial stability and environment. The relationship between financial status and health is apparent and the trends are repeating over and over again. The relationship between financial status and health does not surprise me because with more money, making the healthy choice is more accessible. It’s sad but true that so many people would love to make the healthy choice that is best for their health, but they don’t have the opportunity to. The episode offered a lot of statistics about different factors that contribute to one’s level of risk of disease, for example, education level. Education is closely related to income in the sense that your level of income influences what education you are able to get. Recent studies have found that college graduates live on average 2 and half years longer than those who only graduated from high school. I found this statistic unsurprising, yet still upsetting.

In our society, we can predict how long people will live based on where they live, graduation rates, and income. Our country needs to learn how to control this issue; people’s lives should not be determined by their access to resources. It upsets me to think about the astronomical amount of money that we spend on medical bills, yet we still remain significantly worse off in health compared to most other industrialized countries. Our society is not organized in a way that promotes good health and that needs to change. I also found the portion of the documentary that talked about stress hormones in the brain to be very interesting. Stress is all-consuming and when it is not properly managed is very detrimental to health. While everyone experiences stress, research shows that those who have less opportunity (finances, education, etc.) produce higher levels of cortisol, which in turn, leads to poorer health. Personally, I consider myself a fairly anxious, and stressed person and I am lucky enough to not have to worry about access to resources. I feel privileged with the access I have to medical and educational resources. Based on the level of anxiety that I experience with these privileges, I can’t begin to imagine being in an alternative position where stress and anxiety stems from not being able to access necessary resources to promote good health.

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