A new and unique study shows that middle-aged women who were physically abused as children are twice as likely as their age peers to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, weight problems, and problem cholesterol levels, according to the American Psychological Association.
“Our research shows that childhood abuse can have long-lasting consequences, even decades later, on women’s health, and is related to more health problems down the road,” said study co-author Aimee Midei, from the University of Pittsburgh.
The study involved 342 Pittsburgh-area women—between the ages of 42 and 52—113 of them black and the rest white, assessed for past physical, emotional and sexual abuse, which 34 percent reported experiencing.
The connection between physical abuse and metabolic syndrome exists beyond the traditional risk factors—such as age, ethnicity, menopausal status—and is considered a unique cause for the syndrome. The study did not show a connection between sexual abuse and emotional abuse and metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome refers to a collection of risk factors that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. The most prominent symptom is extra weight around the middle.
Persons with three of the following five conditions are considered to have metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, large waist circumference, poor cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood sugar. Read more about metabolic syndrome here.
“It appears that psychology plays a role in physical health even when we’re talking about traumatic incidents that happened when [people] were children,” said Midei.