Aired Thursday April 3rd, 2008 at 11:01 pm
What’s happening to our health? While we pour more and more money into drugs, dietary supplements and new medical technologies, a groundbreaking new PBS documentary series crisscrosses the country investigating the findings that are shaking up conventional beliefs about what really makes us healthy — or sick. It turns out there’s much more to our health than health care, bad habits or unlucky genes. There’s a hidden killer in plain view: the social, economic and physical environments in which we are born, live and work profoundly affect our well-being and longevity.
Join KUED for a special screening and panel discussion of UNNATURAL CAUSES: IS INEQUALITY MAKING US SICK? "In Sickness and in Wealth" on Tuesday, March 18, at 7 p.m. at The City Library Auditorium, 240 East 400 South in Salt Lake City. Panelists include Karen Crompton, Voices for Utah Children executive director; Dr. David Sundwall, Utah Department of Health executive director; Judi Hilman, Utah Health Policy Project executive director and Dr. Robert Rolfs, State Epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health. The entire series will air on Thursdays at 11:00 p.m., beginning April 3 on KUED-Channel 7.
"In Sickness and in Health," the first part of the four-hour series, coincides with the presidential election-year debates regarding the estimated 47 million Americans who lack health coverage. But UNNATURAL CAUSES goes further, asking what makes us ill in the first place. The series probes why one’s economic status, race and zip code are even more powerful predictors of health and life expectancy than smoking.
Each episode sheds light on the mounting evidence that work, wealth, neighborhood conditions and lack of access to power and resources can get under the skin and disrupt human biology as surely as germs and viruses. Experts and public health professionals emphasize that because these conditions are distributed unequally, so are patterns of chronic disease: e.g., heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, even some cancers.
UNNATURAL CAUSES raises unsettling questions with far-reaching political and social implications and suggests new remedies for an ailing society:
The series reveals a continuous health gradient tied to wealth. Life is longer and healthier at the top. At each step down the socioeconomic ladder — from the rich to the middle class to the poor — people tend to be sicker and die sooner. The least affluent die on average six-and-a-half years earlier than the rich. But even middle-income people die more than two years sooner than those at the top. Poorer smokers face higher mortality risks than rich smokers.
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