Childhood sex abuse tied to heart risk | Science News

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Childhood sex abuse tied to heart risk

Women victimized as children or adolescents show increased cardiac disease in adulthood

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4:48pm, November 13, 2011

ORLANDO, Fla. — Women who report having had forced sex at a young age have an elevated risk of heart disease as adults. Some of the higher cardiac risk is traceable to behavioral and lifestyle factors, but much of it goes unexplained, researchers reported November 13 at a meeting of the American Heart Association.

“This tells us that the immediacy of the tragedy is being followed by risk that may have implications in later life,” says Clyde Yancy, a cardiologist at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago who was not involved in the study. “That’s very disconcerting.”

The researchers analyzed data from more than 67,000 women who were age 25 to 42 when they volunteered to participate in a large healthcare study in 1989. Questionnaire responses revealed that 11 percent answered yes when asked whether they had had “forced sexual activity” during childhood or adolescence, the years through age 17.

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