nationalhealthmuseum.org

Question of the Week

April 5, 2004

Hello!
This week is National Public Health Week.

"Each year the American Public Health Association (APHA) joins with local and national public health groups to celebrate the first week in April as National Public Health Week. The theme for 2004 is eliminating health disparities....Some examples of health disparities include: Lack of physicians in rural areas.... Unequal treatment for minorities.... Lack of diversity among health care providers.... Low health literacy.... Lack of insurance.... Exposures to environmental risks.... Poverty and cancer...."
http://www.apha.org/NPHW/facts/HealthDisparities.pdf

How can knowing that disparities exist help you to make choices that can improve your health, reduce your chances of becoming a disparity statistic, and assist you in educating your family and community about better health?

"Life expectancy and overall health have improved for a large number of Americans, due to an increased focus on preventive medicine and dynamic new advances in medical technology. However, not all Americans are benefiting equally. There are continuing disparities in the burden of illness and death experienced by African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and American Indians/Alaska Natives, as compared to the U.S. population as a whole."
http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2002pres/02minorityhealth.html

How can knowing that disparities exist help you to make choices that can improve your health, reduce your chances of becoming a disparity statistic, and assist you in educating your family and community about better health?

"This Nation is increasingly troubled by the health disparities between its advantaged and disadvantaged populations....The poor have worse health than other population groups, including: shorter life expectancy; higher cancer rates; more birth defects; greater infant mortality; and higher incidence of asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The ways in which poverty creates these health disparities is not well understood. There is increasing evidence that these groups are burdened with a disproportionate share of residential and occupational exposure to hazardous substances such as lead, PCBs, wood dusts, and air pollutants...."
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/external/resinits/ri-2.htm

How can knowing that disparities exist help you to make choices that can improve your health, reduce your chances of becoming a disparity statistic, and assist you in educating your family and community about better health?

"Case 1: Beth M.'s father died of colon cancer, as did her grandmother. Now two of her brothers, both in their 40s, have been diagnosed with colon cancer. Beth, age 37, feels a curse is hanging over her family and is worried about her future and that of her children.

"Case 2: Paul C. was 35 when his doctor told him the grim news: He had advanced colon cancer. As far as he knew, Paul had no family history of the disease. But after checking, Paul learned that several aunts and uncles had died of colon cancer at an early age.

"Further research revealed that some members of both Beth and Paul's families carried an altered gene, passed from parent to child, that predisposes them to a form of inherited colon cancer, known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). Sometimes difficult to diagnose, HNPCC is believed to account for one in six of all colon cancer cases."
http://www.accessexcellence.org/AB/BA/Case_Hereditary_Colon.php

How can knowing that disparities exist help you to make choices that can improve your health, reduce your chances of becoming a disparity statistic, and assist you in educating your family and community about better health?

Good nutrition, including a diet that is low in saturated fats and contains five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day, plays a key role in maintaining good health. Improving the American diet could extend the productive life span of Americans and reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, some types of cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
* According to the American Cancer Society, about one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States are attributable to dietary risk factors. 
* Poor nutrition and lack of physical exercise are associated with 300,000 deaths each year in the United States.
* In 2000, less than one-fourth of U.S. adults reported eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables daily. 
* In 2000, the percentage of adults who reported not eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables ranged from 63% in Arizona to 84% in Louisiana.
http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/burdenbook2002/03_nutriadult.htm
(To see where your state ranks, visit the link above.)

How can knowing that disparities exist help you to make choices that can improve your health, reduce your chances of becoming a disparity statistic, and assist you in educating your family and community about better health?

Whether it is Sickle Cell anemia, Cystic Fibrosis, cancer, Tay-Sachs, or lead paint exposure, not every person has the same level of risk.
Disparities exist.
What can we do?

Questions of the Week:
How can you find out what disparities exist that affect you, your family, and your community? Think about your level of education? economic status? genetics (including your race and gender, as well as the genes you carry)? Diet? Exercise schedule? Location? What other aspects of your life affect your health and your access to health care? How can knowing that disparities exist help you to make choices that can improve your health, reduce your chances of becoming a disparity statistic, and assist you in educating your family and community about better health?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Cindy
aehealth@yahoo.com
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum
http://www.accessexcellence.org

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