Health News Roundup

The unequal impact of pollution, how food pantries can improve health, and more


Study finds racial gap between who causes air pollution and who breathes it
Jonathan Lambert, NPR, March 11
Pollution, much like wealth, is not distributed equally. Scientists and policymakers have long known that black and Hispanic Americans tend to live in neighborhoods with more pollution than white Americans. And because pollution exposure can cause a range of health problems, this inequity could be a driver of unequal health outcomes. A study published Monday adds a new twist by looking at consumption. After accounting for population size differences, whites experience about 17 percent less air pollution than they produce, through consumption, while blacks and Hispanics bear 56 and 63 percent more air pollution, respectively, than they cause by their consumption.


California looks to lead nation in unraveling childhood trauma
Anna Marie Barry-Jester, Kaiser Health News, March 6
Imagine identifying a toxin so potent it could rewire a child’s brain and erode his immune system. A substance that, in high doses, tripled the risk of heart disease and lung cancer and reduced life expectancy by 20 years. And then realizing that tens of millions of American children had been exposed. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California’s newly appointed surgeon general, will tell you this is not a hypothetical scenario. She is a leading voice in a movement trying to transform our understanding of how the traumatic experiences that affect so many American children can trigger serious physical and mental illness.

‘I suffered in silence for 12 years’: Rape survivor helps black women talk about sexual violence
Aneri Pattani, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11
National statistics show that black women are more likely than other women to be raped, killed by a partner, or sexually abused as a child. Yet adults view black girls as less in need of protection than white girls, according to a 2017 study. Another study found college students perceive black victims of sexual assault to be less believable and more responsible for their assault than white victims. LaQuisha Anthony is trying to change the narrative by sharing her story, mentoring black teens, and working with her pastor to bring sexual-assault awareness to church, one of the most trusted institutions in her community.


Food pantries urged to stock nutritious food to encourage healthy eating
Peggy McCarthy, Connecticut Health I-Team, March 13
In Connecticut, 440,000 people — 12.2 percent of the population — are food insecure, which research suggests makes them 25 percent more likely to have heart disease and diabetes, and 50 percent more likely to have kidney disease. A diet rich in nutritious foods can prevent or help manage some of these conditions, but “food most often available to this population is typically the opposite of healthy—high-sodium and high-sugar canned goods, refined grains and processed meats,” said Michelle Lapine McCabe, director of the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development in Bridgeport. The state’s two food banks are leading efforts to change this by providing pantries with nutritious food and promoting the link between food and health.

Connecticut seniors face possible Medicare asset test for savings program
Nicole Leonard, WNPR, March 13
Connecticut is considering reinstating an asset test for Medicare Savings Programs. State officials say it will save money while program enrollees are worried about losing coverage and experiencing higher health care costs. Medicare Savings Programs help residents afford health care costs like copays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket charges. The program is funded by Medicaid, which means it costs the state money.