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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 00:37 GMT 01:37 UK
Unfairness 'increases heart risk'
Unfair treatment outside the office could increase risks of heart disease
People who feel they are treated unfairly, including in the home and community, may have a higher risk of developing heart disease, a study says.

University College London researchers studied 8,000 people, says the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

They found those with a profound sense of injustice had a 55% higher chance of suffering serious heart disease.

Experts believe a sense of unfairness engenders negative emotions which may prompt biochemical changes in the body.

I understand that this is a long shot, but the key message is that we must try to promote fairness in society
Roberto de Vogli

However, lead researcher Dr Roberto de Vogli said more research was needed to confirm the mechanism linking unfairness to health.

The team looked at a study of 8,000 senior civil servants working for the UK government.

However, they were not assessing unfairness experienced at work and used statistics to remove the effects of this factor, and of risk factors such as obesity and smoking, from their tests.

The results showed that unfair treatment in other aspects of life was linked to increased risk of heart disease.

Increased risks

The civil servants were asked how strongly - on a scale of one to six - they agreed with the statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly."

Their mental and physical health was then tracked for an average of almost 11 years.

The results showed the more unfair treatment people reported, the greater their risk of suffering a heart attack or angina.

Dr de Vogli said perception of unfairness in all areas was important.

"I understand that this is a long shot, but the key message is that we must try to promote fairness in society."

Neil Poulter, professor of preventive cardiovascular medicine at Imperial College London, said: "I would think that if you are treated unfairly by society then that would be a likely stress factor which could adversely affect your health."

But he warned it was difficult to separate the effects of unfairness from other risk factors.

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