25 June 2009

Health Effects of Abuse Last a Lifetime

First mental illness, now cancer.

A stunning discovery by University of Toronto researchers indicates a profound link between cancer and child abuse. Adults who were physically abused as children have a 49 per cent higher chance of developing cancer, shows their study, which will be published in the July 15 issue of the journal Cancer. This was true even after the team controlled for variables such as childhood stress, adult smoking, drinking, exercise and socioeconomic status. The research is especially important to helping doctors identify risk factors for cancer in their patients. There may be psycho-physiological reasons why this happens. Future studies will examine how the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, affects the cancer-abuse connection.

Expect more studies to focus on cortisol and its effects on health. One obvious, likely finding: high levels of cortisol in people whose household incomes are in the lowest decile.

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