The victims of consumptiom

The “Hospital Saturday Fund Journal” for June 30, 1911, contains a reprint of an article recently contributed to the “Lancet” by Dr. T. D. Lister, on “Industrial Tuberculosis.” In the course of it Dr. Lister says :

“Wealth protects against consumption by the food, clothing, and leisure, and especially the knowledge, housing, and environment, which render the ubiquitous bacillus comparatively impotent. Poverty, overcrowding, fati-malnutrition of every kind, with ignorance, indifference, and other attendant evils, physical, social, and moral, are its universal allies.
“The industrial classes suffer from consumption at least twice as heavily as the leisured classes, and in many occupations the penalty paid im phthisis mortality is from five to ten times that of the phthisis mortality falling upon those who do not toil. The conditions under which many industries are carried on and in which a large proportion of workers live, are therefore powerful agents predisposing to tuberculosis.
“Overcrowding and low wages go hand-in-hand with casual labour. Both these conditions have frequently been shown to have a close relation with high phthisis mortality. They have come to be accepted as inevitable and normal in many grades of workers in our civilised communities. The political economy of this part of the question is a matter for the statesman rather than the physician, and I do not intend to touch upon it further here, beyond saying that it is not for medical men to look upon it as a srtisfactory state of things or one which should be regarded with complacency.
“The various groups of labourers, with the exception of the railway workers, show a very great excess of phthisis. In the railway workers and road labourers alcoholism is less than half the average. The general labourers include some of the poorest workers, badly housed and fed, and many who have failures in other occupations, or who have drifted on by reason of lack of qualities making for stability. The general labourer class forms about one twenty-fifth of the adult male population, and incurs about one-ninth of the total phthisis mortality.
“From a general review and re-arrangement of the Registrar-General’s figures for male abults regarding the occupational mortality from phthisis, we can gather that there is a distinct relationship between certain kinds of enployment and phthisis mortality. The one great preventive is fresh air.
“But we also find that there are many industries whose mortality as a whole is low and yet their phthisis mortality is about or above the average. Phthisis in these classes, forms a high percentage of total forms of death. Typical instances of these occupations are clerks, indoor shopkeepers, many of the textile indusdustries, the printing trades, and those working in metals other than iron and steel. Confinement, foul air, metalic dust, bad housing, and other conditions inherent to the occupations are the causes of the phthisis excess.”

All the above, I submit, shows the utterly futile nature of the present “crusade against consunption.”


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