The stress and loss of self-esteem that accompanies job loss can lead to unhealthy lifestyles, including substance abuse and poor eating habits. The unemployed are more likely to be diagnosed for hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and because discretionary income drops with the loss of a job, so too do routine screenings that might prevent late-stage diseases.

Researchers at the University of California, University of Oxford and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found a 28 percent increase in alcohol-related deaths with a 3 percent increase in unemployment.

Associate Professor Kate Strully of the State University of New York, in a survey of 8,000 unemployed factory workers, found unemployed workers were 83 percent more likely to develop a new health problem than were workers who kept their jobs.

Ralph Catalano, director of the Robert Woods Johnson Health and Society Program at UC Berkeley, found a strong correlation between unemployment and low birth weight babies. Low birth weight accounts for more than 64 percent of all infant fatalities. Catalano has also found higher incidence of advanced-stage breast tumors among women dealing with unemployment.

The diagnosis is clear: If we want to move the American health care system from the intensive care unit to the recovery room, we must first send cap-and-trade to the morgue.

David A. Ridenour

David A. Ridenour is vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a position he has held since 1986.

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