Childhood, Teenage Abuse Linked to Diabetes in Adulthood

Moderate to severe physical and sexual abuse associated with higher risk of diabetes in women
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Moderate to severe physical and sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence appears to increase the risk for type 2 diabetes in adult women, partly because of the higher body mass index in women who were abused as children, according to a study published online Nov. 9 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Janet W. Rich-Edwards, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data on physical and sexual abuse suffered in childhood and adolescence among 67,853 women in the Nurses' Health Study II, then associated lifetime abuse to the incidence of diabetes during 1989 to 2005.

Compared to subjects with no physical abuse, the researchers found that the increased risk of diabetes was low for those reporting mild physical abuse (hazard ratio [HR], 1.03), somewhat higher for those reporting moderate physical abuse (HR, 1.26), and higher still for those reporting severe physical abuse (HR, 1.54). Compared with women who reported no sexual abuse, the risks followed a similar trend: HR, 1.16 for unwanted sexual touching; HR, 1.34 for one episode of forced sexual activity; and HR, 1.69 for repeated forced sex. Adult body mass index, which has known associations with childhood abuse and diabetes, explained 60 percent of the association of physical abuse and 64 percent of the association of sexual abuse with diabetes.

"A more precise description of the physiologic and psychological mechanisms through which abuse leads to overweight and obesity would focus prevention efforts. Weight control interventions designed specifically for survivors of abuse may help to reduce the risk of diabetes," the authors write.

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