Unnatural Causes: Place Matters


    This installment in the documentary series Unnatural Causes, was aptly named Place Matters as it focused on the effects of location on health. The video opens with the statement that quality of housing and neighborhood have dramatic effects on health. This episode focused on Gwau,a  refugee from Laos, who settled in California. It was upsetting but not surprising to hear that his first checkup was two weeks after he suffered a major heart attack. His doctor stated Gwau’s heart stress was probably caused by anxiety, but wondered why Gwau was experiencing so much stress and anxiety at only 40 years old. Gwau also had no history of smoking or diabetes so the primary stressors were most likely environmental.

   This episode also focused on Gwau’s neighbors in Richmond, California. The video mentioned children in Richmond are hospitalized for asthma at higher rates than average and are twice as likely to die from diabetes. Something that shocked me was that a lot of girls in Richmond had their gallbladders removed due to high fat diets. It reminded me stories I heard as a child, of classmates being hospitalized for eating too many hot cheetos. I remember thinking that was ridiculous but looking back on that, it is completely possible they were hospitalized for poor diets, which included processed food such as hot cheetos.

   This episode also focused on policy we have discussed in class. For example, loans for homes have been available on a racially restricted basis for a long time. The video also discussed the negative effects of too much stress on the body, which is correlated to heart disease. Something I really enjoyed about this episode were the positive changes made in Richmond, including gardens that provided fresh groceries and income for the residents. I loved the concept of aiding communities to gain power over their health, which has many benefits.

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