Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Climate Change: Its Impact on Mental Health and Cancer Risk


The global shift in climate is leading to a perilous increase in sea levels, unpredictable and severe weather patterns, environmental degradation, and as a result, a decline in human health. The influence of climate change on human health is exacerbated by extreme temperatures and air pollution. To alleviate the health effects associated with climate change, we need audacious initiatives and a deeper comprehension of the interconnected dynamics involved.

How is Our Health Affected by Climate Change?
The repercussions of a distressed planet include severe heatwaves, melting ice caps, widespread droughts, devastating wildfires, and rising levels of carbon dioxide. These are just a few of the grave consequences. In Earth’s vast and interconnected ecosystem, where humans, animals, plants, and weather collaborate to support life, any drastic climate changes instigate a chain reaction of damage to all living organisms – a connection that is now widely recognized.

Over the past two decades, global warming has been implicated in an increasing number of health issues, particularly among the elderly, ethnic minorities, and low-income populations.

For instance, there has been a more than 50% rise in heat-related deaths among individuals over the age of 65, which is just one of the many health impacts of climate change. It is also linked to an increase in cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, mental health disorders, immune responses like allergies, and numerous other ailments.

Daniella Foster, Global Vice President and Head of Public Affairs, Science and Sustainability for Bayer’s Consumer Health division, emphasized the need to view the environment as a social determinant of health. She noted that climate change has led to a host of health problems, including respiratory illnesses and heart disease, and that underserved communities are the most susceptible. The efforts being made today to safeguard the environment are crucial for fostering a healthier society.
The Impact of Climate Change on Heart Health

Cardiovascular diseases are the primary cause of death globally. Among other factors, climate change significantly affects our cardiovascular health. Increases in our core body temperature cause us to breathe more rapidly and put additional strain on our hearts, affecting the dilation of our blood vessels, which control our blood pressure and blood clotting mechanisms. These imbalances can lead to heart attacks and heat strokes, especially in individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

Moreover, the detrimental effect of climate change on air quality – partly due to an increase in drought-induced wildfires and higher concentrations of harmful particulate matter in the air – is also linked to heart damage.
The Impact of Climate Change on Mental Well-being
In 2014, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released its inaugural scientific evaluation focusing exclusively on the health impacts of climate change, which notably incorporated a section on mental health. For instance, the group of over 300 specialists discovered that susceptible groups such as expectant mothers, children, economically disadvantaged individuals, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions are at an increased risk of mental health repercussions from exposure to climate-related disasters like floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. These traumatic and occasionally life-threatening incidents can also induce anxiety and depression in individuals who have never previously experienced mental illness.

The Unseen Consequences of Climate Change on Cancer
Climate change is already escalating the risk of cancer. Skin cancer due to heightened UV radiation and lung cancer resulting from air pollution are two direct examples, but there are also other less apparent factors involved.

Elevated temperatures, droughts, floods, and other weather events induced by climate change also affect the quality and availability of our food. A predictive study suggests that there could be 534,000 climate-related deaths globally, including cancer-related deaths, by 2050, due to alterations in the food supply and the decreased intake of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.

Another factor that cannot be overlooked is access to cancer care. Weather-related disasters can cause disruptions in the healthcare system. Existing disparities are further intensified by the effects of climate change. In low- and middle-income countries, access to optimal care and systems is already limited, and extreme weather conditions will make access to basic cancer screening or treatment even more challenging.