By Stephanie Siek, November 24, 2021

Racism doesn’t just impact how Black people are treated—it is itself a risk factor for potentially life-threatening conditions due to the emotional and physical stress it puts on the body. “As people of color, one of the things we contend with is racism that can induce stress,” explains Kecia Gaither, MD, head of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln Hospital. “Stress can induce production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol can decrease immune function. If your immunity is decreased, you’re at increased risk for infection.”

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