People of color experience worse health outcomes than Whites across a wide spectrum of diseases and conditions, including heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS. Racial and ethnic health disparities exist even when we control for other factors, such as socioeconomic status, education, individual behavior and health insurance status. For example, babies born to Black women with a college degree are more likely to die in their first year of life than babies born to White women who did not finish high school. While class, education and other social factors are important, they do not account for the whole picture.
Racial and ethnic health disparities are also not the result of genetics. In fact, race does not exist biologically. There is not a single gene, trait or characteristic that distinguishes members of one race from another. Instead, race is a social construct.
So what is at the root of racial and ethnic health disparities?
More than 100 studies now link experiences of racism to worse health. The experiences of racism over a lifetime can increase chronic stress levels, which is widely recognized as a health threat. The anxiety, anger, and frustration that result from experiences of racism trigger the body's stress response, which over time, creates wear and tear on the body. Racism can take many forms. Whether internalized, interpersonal, or institutional, racism influences how people are treated, what resources and jobs are available, where people are likely to live, and what chances communities have to reach their full potential.
(Unnatural Causes Background Primer)