April 24, 2024

Study Finds Chronic Inflammation and Poverty Increase Mortality Risk

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions has found that individuals who experience chronic inflammation and live in poverty are at a significantly higher risk of mortality. According to the study, these individuals have over double the risk of dying from heart disease and nearly triple the risk of dying from cancer within the next 15 years. The findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, are based on data representing 95 million Americans aged 40 and over.

While chronic inflammation and poverty are individually known to increase mortality risk, the study suggests that when the two factors are combined, their effects are synergistic, leading to an even greater increase in risk. Lead author of the study, Arch Mainous III, Ph.D., explains that there is ample evidence that chronic inflammation can lead to various diseases. The researchers became interested in exploring the interaction between chronic inflammation and poverty, as poverty itself can increase inflammation through factors such as chronic stress. Mainous states, “We found that poverty and high levels of inflammation act synergistically, giving people with both factors basically a double whammy. It makes them far more likely to die and in a relatively short period of time, just 15 years.”

Acute inflammation is a normal immune response to fighting infections or foreign substances in the body. However, chronic inflammation can persist for months or years and has been linked to an increased risk of developing conditions such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and kidney disease. Another study led by Mainous indicates that 34.6% of U.S. adults have systemic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation can be caused by various lifestyle, physiological, and environmental factors, including poor diet, stress, lack of physical activity, smoking, aging, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and exposure to environmental toxins.

The findings of this study emphasize the importance of routine chronic inflammation screenings in vulnerable populations to prevent unnecessary deaths. Currently, there are no clinical guidelines for chronic inflammation screening. Mainous suggests that it is necessary to translate the knowledge about chronic inflammation from basic science to clinical practice by creating screening guidelines for physicians to identify and treat chronic inflammation in their patients.

The researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. They focused on adults aged 40 and older with incomes below the U.S. poverty line and elevated levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of chronic inflammation. The study linked the records to the National Death Index to track mortality over a 15-year period.

Individuals living with both chronic inflammation and poverty had a 127% increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 196% increased risk of dying from cancer. Those experiencing either chronic inflammation or poverty, but not both factors, had a 50% increase in mortality risk over the same period.

In conclusion, the study underscores the need for action to address chronic inflammation and poverty, as they contribute significantly to mortality risk. By implementing screenings for chronic inflammation and providing appropriate interventions and treatments, preventable deaths could be reduced. It is crucial to prioritize the translation of scientific knowledge into practical guidelines for healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it