Media Releases

Childhood physical abuse linked to peptic ulcers

February 10, 2011

TORONTO, ON – Vic­tims of child­hood phys­i­cal abuse are more than twice as like­ly to devel­op ulcers than peo­ple who were not abused as chil­dren, accord­ing to a new study from researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to.

“We found a strong and sig­nif­i­cant asso­ci­a­tion between indi­vid­u­als who were abused dur­ing child­hood and those were diag­nosed with pep­tic ulcers lat­er in life,” says lead author Esme Fuller Thom­son, Pro­fes­sor and San­dra Rot­man Chair at U of T’s Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work. “I orig­i­nal­ly thought the link would be explained by fac­tors such as stress, obe­si­ty, smok­ing or alco­hol abuse – char­ac­ter­is­tics that are high­ly asso­ci­at­ed with pep­tic ulcers – but even after adjust­ing for six­teen known vari­ables, those who had been phys­i­cal­ly abused in child­hood had 68% high­er odds of pep­tic ulcers than their non-abused peers.”

Co-author Jen­nifer Bot­toms, a grad­u­ate of the Mas­ters of Social Work pro­gram at U of T, under­scores the dual rel­e­vance of the research. “These find­ings not only under­line the impor­tance of pre­vent­ing child­hood phys­i­cal abuse,” says Bot­toms, “they also high­light the need to screen adults who have expe­ri­enced child­hood abuse as they are at risk for neg­a­tive health out­comes.”

Pro­fes­sor Thomson’s study appears online in the Jour­nal of Inter­per­son­al Vio­lence. Researchers used data from a rep­re­sen­ta­tive com­mu­ni­ty sam­ple of 13,069 adult Cana­di­ans. More than 1000 report­ed being phys­i­cal­ly abused by some­one close to them before they turned 18 and 493 said they had been diag­nosed with pep­tic ulcers by a health pro­fes­sion­al.


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Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Media Rela­tions

Pro­fes­sor Esme Fuller-Thom­son­Fac­tor-Inwen­tash
Fac­ul­ty of Social Work