Worried About Getting Old? Getting Alzheimer's? Employment Discrimination May Hasten The Process

"Two terrible things have now crossed paths." According to new research "the chronic stress of racism and disrespectful treatment could contribute...
United States Employment and HR
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"Two terrible things have now crossed paths." According to new research "the chronic stress of racism and disrespectful treatment could contribute to poor brain health and later disease."

The new study found that discrimination, including employment discrimination, "may cause accelerated aging, building on prior research that found discrimination may contribute to health problems like depression and heart issues."

Does anyone really doubt that this could be true?

Previous research, as well as clinical observations, has long seen discrimination – including workplace discrimination – as causing all sorts of health-related issues. A 2008 study found that:

"[p]erceived discrimination was associated with increased mortality risk in a general population of older adults. The results suggest that subjective experience of interpersonal mistreatment is toxic in old age. This study adds to a growing literature documenting discrimination as an important social determinant of health."

An interesting recently-published NYU research study which examined discrimination-related aging on a molecular level, found that "participants who reported higher levels of all forms of discrimination had higher biological aging scores—meaning they aged faster—than those with the lowest levels, though everyday and major discrimination had more severe effects than workplace discrimination."

"Biological aging was assessed through epigenetic clocks that estimated the progress and pace of biological aging from the DNAm states of white blood cells. Workplace, major, and everyday discrimination was evaluated using questionnaires, with higher scores indicating higher exposures to discrimination."

Wait ... what?

Nevermind. We're not trying to peer review the study here.

Suffice it to say that discrimination is damaging, even on a molecular level.

One finding which I found disturbing and curious was that Black participants in the study were less susceptible to the impacts of discrimination:

"Although Black participants experienced the most discrimination, and therefore had higher aging scores, white participants who did experience discrimination were more susceptible to the impacts of it. The researchers believe this may be due to white participants having fewer coping mechanisms, since they don't experience discrimination as much."

So Black participants, because they experience more discrimination, have better coping mechanisms? I suppose that this could be, but this idea still troubles me on many levels.

On the other hand, the not-good-news is that other new research found that "Black Americans who experience racial discrimination during midlife are more likely to have blood biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published on April 10 in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia."

What happened to the better coping mechanisms?

An expert not involved in this study said that "The study provides compelling evidence of how racial discrimination is contributing to health disparities and further validates the importance of racism as a problem on a global public health level ... Hopefully the findings are also validating to Black Americans and other minoritized communities who sometimes experience self-doubt about what they've experienced and how it impacts them."


Let's leave these studies there, and just spend a little time pondering these results.

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