U. TORONTO (CAN) — Men who were sexually abused as children are three times more likely to have a heart attack than men who weren’t, a new study shows.
The study did not find similar results for women.
For a paper published online this week in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, researchers examined gender-specific differences in a representative sample of 5.095 men and 7,768 women aged 18 and over, drawn from the Center for Disease Control’s 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.
A total of 57 men and 154 women reported being sexually abused by someone close to them before they turned 18 and 377 men and 285 women said that a doctor, nurse or other health professional had diagnosed them with a heart attack or myocardial infarction.
“Men who reported they were sexually abused during childhood were particularly vulnerable to having a heart attack later in life,” says lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor at University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.
Straight from the SourceDOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.06.001
“We had expected that the abuse-heart attack link would be due to unhealthy behaviors in sexual abuse survivors, such as higher rates of alcohol use or smoking, or increased levels of general stress and poverty in adulthood when compared to non-abused males.
“However, we adjusted statistically for 15 potential risk factors for heart attack, including age, race, obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes mellitus, education level, and household income, and still found a three-fold risk of heart attack.”
Co-author and PhD candidate Sarah Brennenstuhl notes that, “It is unclear why sexually abused men, but not women, experienced higher odds of heart attack; however, the results suggest that the pathways linking childhood sexual abuse to physical health outcomes in later life may be gender-specific.
“For example, it is possible that females adopt different coping strategies than males as women are more likely to get the support and counseling needed to deal with their sexual abuse.”
“These findings need to be replicated in future scientific studies before we can say anything definitive about this link,” says Fuller-Thomson. “But if other researchers find a similar association, one possible explanation is that adverse child experiences become biologically embedded in the way individuals react to stress throughout their life, particularly with respect to the production of cortisol, the hormone associated with the “fight-or-flight” response. Cortisol is also implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases.”
Source: University of Toronto
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Sexual abuse raises heart attack risk for men
This research finding is not surprising, childhood trauma raises the risks for a whole host of illnesses in adult survivors. This might be the first time I have seen a study look at the longitudinal impact of childhood sexual abuse in men.