Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poverty shortens life expectancy more than smoking

From the Chicago Tribune comes this quick note about poverty's effects on health. The study finds that being poor can decrease life expectancy more than smoking, binge drinking or being overweight.

Writer Jeannine Stein of the Chicago Tribune gives us the medical study results.

In a new study, researchers looked at health and life expectancy data from the National Health Interview Surveys and the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys and came up with various behavioral and social risk factors that affect quality of life, then used a formula to estimate the quality-adjusted years of life that would be lost.

The average person whose income level is below 200% of the federal poverty line (the bottom third of the country's population) would lose an estimated 8.2 years of perfect health, smokers 6.6 years, high school dropouts 5.1 years and the obese 4.2 years. Binge drinking and being uninsured were at the bottom.

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