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Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 05:08 GMT
Deprivation 'causes hostility and illness'
poverty
Poverty increases hostility
People from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be hostile and suffer consequent bad health in later life, researchers say.

Scientists measured the connection between negative feelings such as anger and wear and tear on the body.

The results of their study suggested a link between lower economic status and hostility, leading to a possible increased risk of poor health.



Hostility may increase wear and tear on the body directly through physiological activity or strain, or indirectly through health behaviours such as smoking

Dr Laura Kubzansky
Dr Laura Kubzansky and a team at the Harvard School of Public Health studied 818 white men aged 21 to 80, gauging their socio-economic status (SES) by their level of education.

The participants were asked questions about their negative emotions, feelings towards others and tendency to respond angrily or aggressively.

Wear and tear was then tested by blood pressure, abdomen to hip ratio readings, cholesterol and glucose levels and urine tests.

Negative emotions

They found that men with less education had consistently higher levels of negative emotions and poor health.

Dr Lubzansky said: "Our results suggest that repeated stresses, such as those associated with lower SES, may trigger psychological factors such as hostility.

"In turn, hostility may increase wear and tear on the body directly through physiological activity or strain, or indirectly through health behaviours such as smoking.

"The body responds to short-term threats, stress, or negative emotion with increased blood pressure or changes in endocrine levels, for example. These physiological responses normally subside when the stress is gone."



Hostility is also a fairly well established health risk factor and has been related to poorer cardiovascular health in particular

Professor Richard Wilkinson
Over time, however, repeating these responses will increase wear and tear on the body, she said.

Professor Richard Wilkinson, of the Trafford Centre for Medical Research at the University of Sussex, said: "This research fits what is becoming a fairly familiar pattern.

"Increasingly it looks as if low social status itself, not just the material circumstances with which it is associated, is stressful.

"Hostility is also a fairly well established health risk factor and has been related to poorer cardiovascular health in particular.

"Hostility, like depression, or lack of control over one's work and domestic circumstances, or helplessness, is one of the psychosocial factors mediating the relationship between low social status and poorer health. "

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26 Nov 98 |  Health
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