An article published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine claims that the fear and anxiety minority groups are suffering in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election victory could make them sick, or even kill them.
“Elections can matter for the health of children and adults in profound ways that are often unrecognized and unaddressed,” co-author David Williams, a professor of public health and African and African American studies at Harvard University, said in a press release.
Much of the research Williams and his co-authors rely upon was limited or had non-representative samples. Steve Milloy, the publisher of the blog Junk Science, called the study “political junk science.”
Williams and his co-author, psychiatrist Morgan Medlock, argue that Trump’s campaign ignited racist and anti-immigrant sentiments simmering under the surface during the Obama administration. The authors cited Southern Poverty Law Center research claiming an “increase in incidents of harassment and hateful intimidation since Trump’s election.”
“Other research using relatively small, nonrepresentative samples has documented that incidents of racial discrimination experienced by teenagers predicted flatter diurnal cortisol slopes and lower cortisol awakening response in young adulthood, elevated levels of endocrine, cardiovascular, and metabolic parameters at age 20, as well as epigenetic patterns of aging at age 22,” the authors wrote.
They went even further, pointing to studies whose designs can’t draw causality to argue that “living in communities with high levels of racial prejudice is associated with an elevated risk of disease and death.”
“The highest mortality risk was observed among people who themselves scored low on survey measures of self-reported racial prejudice but who resided in highly prejudiced communities,” the authors wrote.
The authors also argued that the anticipated repeal of the Affordable Care Act and other social service cuts “have members of economically marginalized groups, who are likely to be disproportionately affected, very concerned.”
“History has taught us that such cuts in health and social service programs can have pervasive negative effects on health,” the authors wrote.
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