Child Abuse Increases Risk Of Adult Cancer

Child abuse can lead to an increased chance of developing cancer as an adult, according to a study conducted by Purdue University researchers.

Dr. Kenneth Ferraro, distinguished professor of sociology at Purdue, said,

“… people who were frequently emotionally or physically abused by their parents were more likely to have cancer in adulthood, and the link was greater when fathers abused sons and mothers abused daughters. Overall, the more frequent and intense the abuse, the more it elevated the cancer risk.”

Co-author and sociology and gerontology graduate student Patricia Morton said that men who have the most stressors during childhood are more likely to develop cancer, and that when children were abused by their same-sex parent, their risk increased possibly because of a greater social bond between same-sex parents and children. A similar study found that women whose mothers smoked were more likely to smoke, and the same was true of men who smoked whose fathers also smoked.

The purpose of the study, which is available online through the Journal of Aging and Health, was “to address the inconsistent findings on whether childhood misfortune increases adult cancer occurrence.” The study used data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), which first sampled 3,032 respondents aged 25 to 74 between 1995-1996.

The results of the study say,

“For men, additive childhood misfortune, physical abuse by father, and frequent abuse by either parent increased cancer risk. For women, physical abuse by mother and frequent abuse by either parent increased cancer risk. ”

Other misfortunes that were studied were poverty, loss of a parent and family educational status. The researchers are now examining if there are any links between child abuse and other health outcomes, such as heart attack.

Child abuse was also recently linked to home foreclosures in a study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.