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Girls & Women

Daily Discrimination May Raise Women's Blood Pressure Over Time

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Eliminating gender inequality in the workforce would greatly increase economic activity, but new studies show that eliminating discrimination in general would also greatly improve women's health. You can join us by taking action here to take a stand for true gender equality.

Experiencing everyday acts of discrimination can be detrimental to a woman's health over time, according to a new study.

Research conducted by a team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and subsequently published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, has concluded that regular slights may actually raise women's blood pressure by two points.

Take Action: Call for More Female Representation Among Health Care Leadership

"Discrimination is just simply bad for your health," Danielle L. Beatty Moody, the study's lead author, told BuzzFeed News in an interview.

Beatty Moody and her colleagues looked at data from 2,180 women across the United States, including middle-aged females who were black, white, Hispanic, and Asian American, including those of Japanese and Chinese ancestry. The researchers asked the subjects about experiences where they felt ignored, were treated as inferior, with less courtesy, or received poor service in public establishments.

"Basically it asked about the frequency of your experiences in your day-to-day life of being threatened or harassed, people acting like they're better than you, or that you're less smart," Beatty Moody told BuzzFeed News.

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It turned out that regular experiences of everyday discrimination were linked to a one- to two-point rise in blood pressure over the course of the 10-year study, according to the report.

While the fluctuation seems minimal, "Even differences of just two or greater millimeters of mercury for blood pressure can be predictive of future stroke, heart disease, and predicted mortality outcome," Beatty Moody pointed out.

The findings echoed those of a previous study released in 1996, conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute of Oakland, California.

In that earlier study, more than 4,000 men and women indicated that racial discrimination and reactions to it had made a substantial contribution to the differences in blood pressure between blacks and whites, reported The New York Times.