New research shows that environmental factors such as diet make major impacts

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House Republicans vote to strip Planned Parenthood funds

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WASHINGTON House Republicans voted to deny funds to women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood for a year on Friday but the action did little to quell party desires to use a spending bill as leverage in their fight to punish the group in an abortion controversy.

Congress adjourned for the weekend with an Oct. 1 government shutdown deadline fast approaching and no clear plan from Republican leaders for extending funding for federal agencies.

Many conservative Republicans had called for the stop-gap spending measure to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, but others in the party, aware of Democratic opposition, had said this would increase the likelihood of a second government shutdown in two years.

House Speaker John Boehner, trying to release some steam from his caucus, chose to delay consideration of a spending bill vote and put the stand-alone defunding bill to a vote, along with a separate measure aimed at banning abortions that involve live births.

Both measures passed easily, largely on party lines.

Planned Parenthood faces allegations, which it denies, of improperly selling fetal tissue from abortions. The non-profit group said Internet videos that have inflamed anti-abortion sentiment among Republicans "falsely" portray its participation in tissue donation programs for medical research.

Several House Republicans said the two bills passed on Friday would be blocked by Senate Democrats, and stronger action to stop Planned Parenthood funding may be necessary.

"I think you still need to continue to look at the funding mechanism as a potential vehicle to stop the murders," said Representative Bill Flores of Texas, who heads a group of 172 House conservatives.

During debate of the two bills, Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York said the legislation "attempts to criminalize legal medical care and punish women by rolling back reproductive choices."

Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina said he was concerned that anti-Planned Parenthood policy provisions in the spending bill would prompt a shutdown without stopping the practices.

And Representative Roger Williams of Texas said, "There are "people like me who can’t find a way to vote for anything that funds Planned Parenthood."

The White House again called on Republicans to enter budget talks to ease automatic spending constraints, but said a short funding extension was still needed.

"I would not envision a long extension of funding at current levels, but rather enough time for Congress to finally convene the talks, reach an agreement and implement it," White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu)

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Racism linked to mortality for both blacks and whites in U.S.

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(Reuters Health) - In U.S. communities with high levels of racial prejudice, both blacks and whites may have worse survival odds than people who live in more tolerant places, a study suggests.

Researchers examined U.S. survey data on racial attitudes from 1993 to 2002 and linked the responses to death records through 2008, to explore the impact of prejudice on mortality. Altogether they had data from almost 11,000 people living in 100 communities nationwide.

By 2008, 1,651 people died, accounting for about 15 percent of the participants.

Living in a community with higher levels of anti-black prejudice increased residents’ overall odds of death by 24 percent when mortality risk was assessed independent of individual and neighborhood socioeconomic factors and individually held racial attitudes, the study found.

“Racial prejudice compromises health for the community as a whole,” said lead study author Yeonjin Lee, a sociology researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.

The findings challenge a widespread belief that only victims of racial prejudice can be harmed by prejudice, Lee said by email. Instead, the study found prejudice was harmful for the health of both black and white participants.

“The current finding - that adverse effects of structural racism were not specific to blacks - show that structural discrimination not only damages the low-status group members but also majority group members who live in the same community,” Lee added.

Structural racism is when social systems, social forces, institutions, ideologies, and processes interact to create and maintain racial and ethnic inequities, according to John A. Powell writing in the open-access Berkeley Law Scholarship Repository (bit.ly/1gycM4T).

The survey questions that Lee and colleagues analyzed asked whether black people had worse jobs, income or housing due to less in-born ability to learn; and whether black people lacked motivation to get out of poverty.

Additional questions touched on both black and white individuals, asking if one race was more or less intelligent or lazy than the other and whether there should be laws against marriages between the two races.

One limitation of the study is its reliance on survey participants to honestly answer questions about race because some people may try to provide what they think are socially acceptable responses even if they are not truthful, the researchers acknowledge in the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers also lacked data on some factors that can influence mortality, such as how people eat and whether they smoke or drink.

While the paper doesn’t prove prejudice causes premature death, it’s possible that residents of communities with less racial tension may have a greater ability to band together to advocate for policies and services that help foster a healthier neighborhood, the authors suggest.

Researchers call this social capital, and they found higher levels linked to a 17 percent reduction in community-level mortality. Social capital was lower in communities where racial prejudice was higher, the study found.

It’s also possible that communities with high levels of racial prejudice may create a hostile living environment that triggers certain stress responses in the body that can negatively impact health and mortality, said David Williams, a professor of public health and African-American studies at Harvard University in Boston.

Many little indignities – like being treated disrespectfully or with fear or mistrust – can create a hostile environment in a community and add up to enough stress to trigger a biological response to racial prejudice, said Williams, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Over time, heightened stress can lead to more abdominal fat, heart disease and the buildup of plaque in the coronary artery, all of which have the potential to hasten death.

“Little indignities can predict mortality,” Williams said. “Sometimes we think it takes a big event, but if you are exposed to a series of chronic ongoing little indignities it all adds up.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1V0KDpY American Journal of Public Health, published online September 17, 2015.

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House Republicans vote to strip Planned Parenthood funds

0

WASHINGTON House Republicans voted to deny funds to women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood for a year on Friday but the action did little to quell party desires to use a spending bill as leverage in their fight to punish the group in an abortion controversy.

Congress adjourned for the weekend with an Oct. 1 government shutdown deadline fast approaching and no clear plan from Republican leaders for extending funding for federal agencies.

Many conservative Republicans had called for the stop-gap spending measure to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, but others in the party, aware of Democratic opposition, had said this would increase the likelihood of a second government shutdown in two years.

House Speaker John Boehner, trying to release some steam from his caucus, chose to delay consideration of a spending bill vote and put the stand-alone defunding bill to a vote, along with a separate measure aimed at banning abortions that involve live births.

Both measures passed easily, largely on party lines.

Planned Parenthood faces allegations, which it denies, of improperly selling fetal tissue from abortions. The non-profit group said Internet videos that have inflamed anti-abortion sentiment among Republicans "falsely" portray its participation in tissue donation programs for medical research.

Several House Republicans said the two bills passed on Friday would be blocked by Senate Democrats, and stronger action to stop Planned Parenthood funding may be necessary.

"I think you still need to continue to look at the funding mechanism as a potential vehicle to stop the murders," said Representative Bill Flores of Texas, who heads a group of 172 House conservatives.

During debate of the two bills, Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York said the legislation "attempts to criminalize legal medical care and punish women by rolling back reproductive choices."

Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina said he was concerned that anti-Planned Parenthood policy provisions in the spending bill would prompt a shutdown without stopping the practices.

And Representative Roger Williams of Texas said, "There are "people like me who can’t find a way to vote for anything that funds Planned Parenthood."

The White House again called on Republicans to enter budget talks to ease automatic spending constraints, but said a short funding extension was still needed.

"I would not envision a long extension of funding at current levels, but rather enough time for Congress to finally convene the talks, reach an agreement and implement it," White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu)