Childhood Physical Abuse Linked to Cancer
The long-term psychological effects of child abuse have been widely observed and documented. Now, a new study shows that children who have suffered physical abuse are more likely to develop cancer as adults.
The study carried out at the University of Toronto took into account other factors like childhood stress, smoking habits, and lifestyle choices (diet and exercise). Even when adjusting for these differences, survivors of childhood abuse were 49% more likely to develop cancer than children who were not abused.
Researchers are still working to understand the link between abuse and cancer. Various psychophysiological factors could be at play. Authors cite cortisol, the hormone that produces the fight-or-flight instinct, as a potential causal agent.
Esme Fuller-Thomson of the University of Torontoâ€™s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Department of Family and Community Medicine says, â€œFew talk about childhood physical abuse and cancer in the same breath. From a public health perspective, it’s extremely important that clinicians be aware of the full range of risk factors for cancer. This research provides important new knowledge about a potential childhood abuse-cancer relationship.”