Poverty levels are up in the U.S., the Census Bureau reports, with the percentage of Americans living in poverty at its highest point since 1993. That will likely translate into increasing health issues for those people, since being poor seems inexorably linked to poor health.
A number of studies have linked poverty to higher levels of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other diseases and conditions. While the association may seem obvious, the reasons can be complex: having little access to healthcare, less education about disease treatment and prevention, a scarce supply of healthful foods, fewer opportunities to exercise and embarrassment about one's condition. Adults aren't the only ones affected; some research focuses on children as well.
A study released this week in the Canadian Medical Assn. Journal found that those living in poorer neighborhoods may be at greater risk for having sudden cardiac arrest. Among 9,235 people living in seven cities in the U.S. and Canada who had cardiac arrest, the rate was much higher in the lowest socioeconomic neighborhoods compared with the highest.
Poverty may factor into survival rates for prostate cancer. A 2006 study in the journal Cancer found that poverty in the community, income levels and education were the most significant issues that factored into poor survival rates. Among the 61,228 study participants who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, race played a minor role.