A new study published by the American Psychological Association found that middle-aged women who say they were physically abused while growing up are twice as likely to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor cholesterol levels and a larger waistline, according to a news release from the APA.
The study, published in the APA journal Health Psychology, is the first of its kind to “show that a history of childhood physical abuse is related to the development of metabolic syndrome in women at mid-life,” the press release states.
Metabolic syndrome is when a person has a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for stroke, type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Our research shows us that childhood abuse can have long-lasting consequences, even decades later, on women’s health and is related to more health problems down the road,” said study co-author Aimee Midei, in the news release.
The study included 342 women from the ages of 42 to 52. One-third of them said they experienced some type of childhood abuse.
The findings showed that physical abuse is “strongly associated with metabolic syndrome, even after controlling for ethnicity, age, menopause and other traditional risk factors. Sexual abuse and emotional abuse were unrelated to metabolic syndrome,” the news release states.
“It’s possible that women with histories of physical abuse engage in unhealthy eating behaviors or have poor stress regulation,” said Midei, from the University of Pittsburgh. “It appears that psychology plays a role in physical health even when we’re talking about traumatic incidents that happened when these women were children.”
Sources: American Psychological Association news release, National Institutes of Health
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