Studies: Can Racism Shorten Life?

Paula Deen with Marcus Samuelsson (Getty Images)
Paula Deen with Marcus Samuelsson (Getty Images)

It's fair to say that Paula Deen's unapologetic racism has gotten her Twitter-murdered in the most hilarious way possible. Thanks to #PaulasBestDishes and today's #PaulaWon'tCookIt hastags, anyone's image of her as a butter-loving grandmother figure is officially deep-fried and dead. 


But of course, when it comes to bigotry, it's not just the perpetrators who suffer. According to a new study, racial bias, whether overt (like when the Deens of the world call you a n—ger and want you to be a waiter at a slavery-themed dinner party) or subtle and unintentional, can actually be indirectly physically harmful.

The analysis of the research goes like this: Minorities are more likely to experience racism, which can lead to chronic stress. People under constant stress are more likely to suffer health problems. Read more from ABC News:

Medical studies increasingly show that racial bias, whether overt or subtle and unintentional, can lead to chronic stress problems among victims — and stress can literally alter how our brains work and how we respond to germs, according to Paula Braveman, director of the Center on Social Disparities in Health at the University of California, San Francisco.

Americans and their doctors tend to focus on what individuals can do to be healthier, but there's evidence they should look at broader societal factors like racism, Braverman told listeners in remarks at a Washington meeting of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America on Wednesday.

Blacks and Hispanics statistically have more health complications at earlier ages, as well as shorter life expectancies, than their Caucasian counterparts. Researchers in recent years have offered a variety of biological and social explanations for the disparity, but few until now have focused on a simple fact: Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely to experience racism in their day-to-day lives, which can build up stress.

That discrimination isn't always overt, but it's powerful. Hispanics and blacks are charged more than whites for homes in Chicago, for example, which can push minority buyers into poorer neighborhoods — a further cause of stress.

Read more at ABC News.