Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sexual Abuse May Affect Health For A Lifetime

Date:
November 24, 2000
Source:
Center For The Advancement Of Health
Summary:
Far from being a static experience, sexual abuse during youth may affect health even in old age, suggest the results of a study. Two University of California researchers noted associations between early abuse and several health conditions in the elderly.

Far from being a static experience, sexual abuse during youth may affect health even in old age, suggest the results of a study.

Related Articles


Two University of California researchers noted associations between early abuse and several health conditions in the elderly. "These associations are impressive in that they were still present in an older population," said co-author Murray B. Stein, MD, of the University of California, San Diego’s Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders Program.

Stein and co-author Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD, analyzed health data on more than 1,300 elderly white, middle class study participants from a Southern California community. Study participants took a sexual assault questionnaire in which they were asked if they ever experienced unwanted sexual contact.

More than 12 percent of the women and 5 percent of the men reported early sexual abuse. On average, the first experience of abuse occurred when the women were 16 years old and the men were 13.5 years old. Most of the respondents never received counseling for their experience.

Past sexual assault was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, arthritis and thyroid disease, Stein and Barrett-Connor found. The study results appear in the November/December issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

The findings varied by gender. In women, early sexual assault appeared to increase the risk of arthritis and breast cancer, with multiple abuse episodes increasing disease risk by two- to three-fold compared with a single episode. In men, early sexual assault appeared to increase the risk of thyroid disease.

Although this study resembles others that found adverse health effects of sexual abuse, Stein and Barrett-Connor did not find the associations between sexual abuse and obesity or headaches observed in other studies.

Their finding of an association between breast cancer and early sexual abuse was somewhat unexpected. Stein and Barrett-Connor were also surprised to find an association between early sexual abuse and a reduced risk of hypertension. This finding may reflect "a survivor bias," meaning that individuals with conditions associated with hypertension -- such as cardiac disease and diabetes -- may have died before the study was conducted.

Exactly how sexual abuse may contribute to health problems can’t be determined from this study. The effects of stress-related hormonal alterations may play a role, but further research is needed, noted the researchers.

"It remains to be established from future research to what extent, and through what mechanisms, sexual assault is associated with adverse effects on health," said Stein.

The researchers also suggested an evaluation of the extent to which counseling may improve the health of those who experienced early sexual abuse.

This research was supported in part by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institute of Aging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Center For The Advancement Of Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Center For The Advancement Of Health. "Sexual Abuse May Affect Health For A Lifetime." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001122181025.htm>.
Center For The Advancement Of Health. (2000, November 24). Sexual Abuse May Affect Health For A Lifetime. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001122181025.htm
Center For The Advancement Of Health. "Sexual Abuse May Affect Health For A Lifetime." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001122181025.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins