Physical Abuse Doubles Risk of Metabolic Syndrome in Women

Risk up in midlife women with childhood physical abuse history, after adjusting for covariates

TUESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- After adjusting for age, ethnicity, and menopausal status, a history of childhood physical abuse more than doubles a woman's risk of developing metabolic syndrome during midlife, according to research published online July 9 in Health Psychology.

Aimee J. Midei, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues conducted a study involving 342 women participating in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. Of these, 114 women were black and 228 were white. Over a seven-year follow-up period, women were evaluated annually for metabolic syndrome according to specific criteria, including waist circumference; triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels; systolic and diastolic blood pressure; and fasting glucose level.

The researchers found that, overall, 34 percent of the women participants had a history of childhood physical abuse. After adjusting for age, ethnicity, and menopausal status, women with a history of childhood physical abuse were 2.12-fold more likely to exhibit midlife metabolic syndrome compared with those without a history of physical abuse. No evidence of an association between sexual or emotional abuse and the development of metabolic syndrome was noted.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to suggest that childhood abuse is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome during midlife aging, which is a period of increased cardiovascular risk for women," the authors write. "Physical abuse appears to be particularly detrimental in predicting adulthood metabolic syndrome."

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