Is City Living Slowly Killing You?



rexusa_1443943aPhoto: Image Source/REX USA.
City living is pretty great, right? There are so many things to absorb, like amazing art, world-class museum exhibits, and all kinds of cuisines. Now, you can go ahead and add a bunch of health problems to that intake list. We know what you're thinking, but it's not your steady diet of takeout that's causing it.

An editor over at io9 did some major research into the ways city folk compare to their country counterparts, and the results are, well, interesting. Keep in mind, many of these findings are based on one or two studies on the subject, and so they should be taken with a grain of salt. But, dear urban dwellers, in the words of OkCupid, y'all got issues.

For starters, you're more likely to develop asthma, allergies, and pollution-induced dry-eye — especially children. One study says it's because children in low-income urban areas are exposed to more toxins and stress at an early age. But, there are also studies that suggest asthma is just as prevalent in the country, it's simply not treated as often. Therefore, the recorded rate of childhood asthma in cities is higher because parents have more resources to remedy it.

As for allergies, the "hygiene hypothesis" says that our immune systems don't become as awesome as they could be when we live in artificially antiseptic or too-clean environments, which are apparently more common in cities. We're not sure the author of that particular theory has ever ridden the subway.

Respiratory afflictions aside, urbanites are also prone to suffer anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and even schizophrenia. Apparently, we've got a 39% higher rate of anxiety, are 21% more likely to have a mood disorder, and have a generally higher rate of depression. Researchers claim that our brains develop differently in cities, making them more prone to stress-related disorders. The amygdala (it processes your feelings) more actively sets you up with negative emotion. Again, we'd like to direct your attention to the subway.

Finally, and perhaps the most realistic of the problems, is that city living makes for troubled circadian rhythms. The bright lights, 24/7, confuse the internal clock, and the prevalence of night shifts also causes issues in that department. And, lack of sleep can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and cancer.

Before you pack your bags and head for the 'burbs, though, know this: City people are actually in better overall shape and live longer lives than their country brethren. We're less likely to become obese, less likely to die of an accident, and have a lowered risk of suicide. Plus, we're less lactose intolerant, have a more pleasant and healthy old age, and better TB resistance (weird, but we'll take it).

So, is the city life actually killing you? There are definitely factors here that need further examination. But, for now, we'll venture to say that there are greater dangers to your wellness than Manhattan is posing. Though, someone really needs to do a health study of the subway. (io9)