Can Racism Cause Asthma? Stress Of Discrimination Can Increase Chance Of Lung Condition In Black Women

By Philip Ross on August 16, 2013 7:37 PM EDT

Facing discrimination has been linked to a greater risk of developing asthma in African American women. (Photo: Flickr/NAID)

Can racism cause asthma? A new study from Boston says yes.

Researchers from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University say that black women in America who experience discrimination are more likely to have adult-onset asthma.

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The study, published online in the journal Chest, looked at surveys from 38,000 African American women in the U.S. who filled out questionnaires every two years between 1997 and 2011. The women noted the prevalence of "everyday" racism in their lives, things like poor service at a restaurant or store, and "lifetime" racism, things like job discrimination and police harassment.

Researchers found that between the two extreme groups - the women who experienced the most racism and those who experienced the least - there was a 45 percent increase in asthma rates among the women in the highest incidence of racism group.

"This is the first prospective study to show an association between experiences of racism and adult-onset asthma," Patricia Coogan, the senior epidemiologist at the university, said in a press release. "Racism is a significant stressor in the lives of African American women, and our results contribute to a growing body of evidence indicating that experiences of racism can have adverse effects on health."

Researchers attribute the increase in asthma risk to racism-induced stress.

According to Mayo Clinic, stress can have numerous adverse effects on someone's health. Anxiety, depression, digestive problems and weight gain are all linked to stress.

Read more from iScience Times:

Keeping a Dog Can Prevent Childhood Asthma

Kaiser Permanente Study Finds Obesity-Asthma Link in Children Varies by Race/Ethnicity

Scientists Collaborate in Discovery of New Targets for the Treatment of Asthma

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