Study Links Fairness Perception and Health

By Hannah Mueoz

A new study shows there is a link between people who are treated
unfairly and those who get heart disease.

Research shows that victims of unfairness are 55 percent more
likely to suffer from heart failure than an average person.

Researchers studied 6,081 people for 10.9 years, making note of
all their health problems. When researchers began studying these
people, they did not suffer from unfair treatment, nor did they
suffer from heart problems. However, certain feelings of unfairness
rose among some subjects who were studied, which resulted in heart
disease for these people.

Some believe that victims of unfairness attempt to escape their
problems, which leads to unhealthy habits.

“People who feel they are victims of discrimination often
respond by drinking, smoking or overeating,” said Nancy Kreiger, a
Harvard School of Public Health professor, according to the Los
Angeles Times.

“They do things that take the edge off,” said Kreiger. “If you
do those things, those will have health consequences.”

Therefore, engaging in unhealthy acts leads to unhealthy
consequences. Drinking, smoking and overeating all result in heart
disease, which are acts some depressed and emotionally ill people
tend to perform.

“I think that being treated unfairly wouldn’t have a direct
affect on your heart, but this kind of treatment would lead to
different types of behavior like smoking and drinking, or even
stress,” said Whitney Parker, a third-year liberal studies

Victims often suffer from coronary heart disease, resulting in
high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and irregular heart
beats. This link is also connected with medical factors.

“The link between stress and health is primarily an
emotional-hormonal link,” said Dr. Jim Sturges, a clinical
psychologist and associate professor of the psychology and
sociology department at Cal Poly Pomona.

“Hostility, in particular, is an emotional state associated with
heart disease and other illnesses,” said Sturges. “Our brain reacts
to stress by causing production of stress-related hormones such as
cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, increases blood pressure and blood
sugar and suppresses the immune system.”

Other hormones serve as factors involved with developing heart

“Oxytocin, a hormone associated with trust, is produced when one
experiences trust, bonding and close connections,” said Dr. Alane
Daugherty, a kinesiology professor.

“Someone with more of this chemical is able to do all of these
things, but if someone is treated unfair, the hormone cannot be
produced,” said Daugherty. “A lot of other chemicals such as
cortisol (a stress hormone) are involved with this process. When
oxytocin is low, cortisol is higher. Cortisol makes blood pressure
higher and creates heart disease.”

When one has no immediate, trusting connection with another, no
oxytocin is produced, and more cortisol is being produced. This
results in an over-load of stress, and the trust hormone fails to

With cortisol being produced at a high level, it creates heart

Therefore, the link between unfair treatment and heart disease
are closely related.

“One’s thoughts and feelings create biochemical reactions within
a person that may seem to be unbelievable,” said Daugherty.

Hannah Munoz can be reached by e-mail at or
by phone at (909) 869-3747.

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