Researchers Link Death to Social Ills

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Researchers Link Death to Social Ills by Nicholas Bakalar Poverty is often cited as contributing to poor health. Now, in an unusual approach, researchers have calculated how many people poverty kills and presented their findings, along with an argument that social factors can cause death the same way that behavior like smoking cigarettes does. In an article published online for the June 16 issue of The American Journal of Public Health, scientists calculated the number of deaths attributable to each of six social factors, including low income. To estimate the number of deaths caused by each factor, the scientists reviewed earlier studies on the subject, combining the data in a meta-analysis. The studies were generally based on large national surveys like the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a continuing study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then, using the pooled data, the researchers calculated the “population- attributable fraction” of deaths – that is, the number of deaths caused by living with a given social disadvantage.
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