Living in the Wrong Neighborhood Can Harm Your Health
"Living in some of Baltimore's poorest and most violent neighborhoods can significantly increase your risk of heart attack or stroke, according to a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In the worst areas, the hazard is on a par with being a regular smoker.
The results confirm the suspicions of a small group of urban researchers who in recent years have come to believe that impoverished environments can seriously damage health, even for people not directly touched by violence or who do not have unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits.
Researchers suspect the culprit is the stress of living in communities where gunfire and dilapidated housing are common and where stress-reducing activities such as recreational walks can be dangerous.
'We think of health in terms of medicine and genes and lifestyle,' says Dr. Thomas A. Glass, a researcher at the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health and the study's lead author. 'We need to think of it more in terms of environment.'