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Alabama part of a study that may link childhood abuse and adulthood health risks.


A scientific study in the journal of the American Heart Association says child abuse may increase cholesterol and the risk of diabetes in some adults.

Researchers used data from over five thousand adults in Birmingham as well as Chicago, Minneapolis, and Oakland, California. The respondents were eight to thirty years old in the mid-1980s.

The study says the risk of high cholesterol was 26% higher in white women and 35% higher in white men who reported low levels of childhood abuse compared to their peers who were not abused. White men also were 81% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if they experienced occasional or frequent abuse.

However, positive engagement with family members appeared to offset the cardiovascular risks associated with childhood abuse. Black men and white women who experienced abuse and lacked that engagement were 3.5 times more likely to develop high cholesterol. But that risk diminished as family engagement increased.

The risks for heart disease and stroke develop over a lifetime and can begin as early as childhood. A 2018 scientific statement from the American Heart Association outlined research showing physical and psychological abuse, along with other negative childhood experiences, could increase the risk for numerous cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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