Understanding what really makes us sick

From ABC Health & Wellbeing, 14 May 2015:

When it comes to healing the sick, we look to doctors. When it comes to preventing us from getting sick in the first place, many say we should look to governments.

That’s because the vast majority of our biggest killers, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lung disease and mental illness, are significantly affected by where we live, where we work, our income, our education, our socioeconomic status, and our lifestyle.

These are called the ‘social determinants of health’ and leading health experts say they impact on our health more than anything else. This is why governments are encouraged to fund preventive health measures and address social issues that affect our health, as well as funding medical research, hospital beds and GP visits.

Social determinants explain why life expectancy in Japan is double that of Sierra Leone, or why Indigenous Australians have a ten-year lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians.

They explain why some chronic diseases and risk factors such as smoking are more common in rural areas than in urban areas; why changes to the minimum wage can have a dramatic downstream impact on health; why education is as important as healthcare when it comes to our risk of chronic disease; and why poverty kills. Read more.

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