People are now moving faster and further and in larger numbers than ever before. One million people emigrate permanently, and over a million more seek asylum each year. Migration affects health. Immigrants have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, colorectal carcinoma and melanoma than non-immigrant populations. In the United States, immigrants have higher mortality from stomach cancer, brain cancer and infectious disease. In the United Kingdom, children with ethnic origin in south Asia have higher rates of leukaemia, lymphoid carcinoma, lymphoma and hepatic tumours. In Israel, cardiac disease in immigrants is markedly more severe than in the native population. Clinical manifestations of physical disease, such as tuberculosis, are also significantly altered in immigrant populations.
Migration also affects mental health. In the United Kingdom, Irish, Caribbean and Pakastani men have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and deliberate self-harm. In Oslo, post-traumatic stress disorder affects 46.6% of refugees.8 Egyptian and Asian immigrants have higher rates of bulimia and anorexia nervosa.
Migration can be a stressful event, and it can have dramatic effects on the mental health of migrants. It can be very difficult to change residences to a new country and to deal with culture shock. Migrants should be careful to have close-knit communities to deal with the hardships of migration.