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Detroit Residents Face Increased Health Problems

Doctor explaining diagnosis to her female patient
A shocking new study released this week revealed that 95% of the world’s population suffers from health problems, and one in three people suffer from multiple ailments simultaneously. That means 2.3 billion individuals struggled to cope with five or more illnesses at once in 2013, a dramatic increase over previous years. According to the “Global Burden of Disease Study,” the most common health problems worldwide include lower back and neck pain, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse disorders.

That study’s release coincides with a local report issued this week about the unique health problems facing Detroit’s low-income residents. A University of Michigan study found that the stress of coping with extreme poverty accelerates the onset of age-related illnesses, and can dramatically lower life expectancy in the city.

“Currently, residents of Detroit are struggling — whether they are white, black, or of Mexican descent — in ways that measurably impact their health negatively,” said Arline Geronimus, a University of Michigan professor.

Last week, state lawmakers invited residents from the Detroit area to discuss concerns over toxic, possibly even cancerous, drinking water. In Flint, citizens draw their water from the Flint River, which has been poisoned by decades of pollution from auto factories. According to reports, politicians knew about the dangerous water for more than 10 months. Now, residents are demanding the state restore access to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s safer water sources.

According to the studies, lower back and neck pain is one of the most common health problems, both in Detroit and internationally. More than 80% of the global population will suffer from back or neck pain in their lifetime, while in the U.S. back and neck pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under the age of 45. Every year, Americans spend $50 billion to treat the condition.

“The fact that mortality is declining faster than non-fatal disease and injury prevalence is further evidence of the importance of paying attention to the rising health loss from these leading causes of disability, and not simply focusing on reducing mortality,” said GBD lead author Theo Voss, a professor at the University of Washington.

The Global Burden of Disease Study analyzed world health problems in 2013 and was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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