Are Abuse Survivors at a Higher Risk of Developing Diabetes?
Adults who were abused in their childhood are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes — a condition in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin or becomes insensitive to insulin, as found in a study by the University of Birmingham. The researchers analysed almost 250,000 patients, finding that almost 81,000 of these were abused as children. The results showed that children who had been abused also had a higher chance of developing other chronic conditions, including heart disease and high blood pressure.
What is the Link between Type 2 Diabetes and Abuse?
In the above study, adjustments were made for participants based on body mass, smoking, and hypertension. This means that none of these factors (some of which are related to lifestyle choices) can account for the heightened diabetes rate. However, making poor lifestyle choices can indeed increase the risk of developing this disease. As stated in a 2015 study by A Ducan et al., obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes. There is also a strong link between child abuse and adult smoking — both of which can exert a negative effect on one’s health and wellbeing. Smoking raises blood sugar and has the potential to make the body even more resistant to insulin.
Abuse, Obesity, and Complications
Obesity can not only significantly increase the likelihood of developing diabetes but also increase the likelihood of complications like diabetic feet. Essentially, diabetes can cause decreased blood flow to the feet, resulting in chronic pain, wounds, and (in severe cases) amputation. Protective measures against diabetic foot complications, including frequent foot checking, exercise, and wearing protective gear, can all aid in reducing the chances of such symptoms. However, staying at a healthy weight is vital when it comes to preventing this and other complications.
How can Medical Professionals Help?
The University of Birmingham study authors stressed the important role that doctors and other health professionals can play in both spotting and recommending preventive measures against diabetes in the case of victims of abuse. It all begins with educating health workers on the link between abuse and cardiovascular and diabetes risks. Just a few factors that can lead to chronic illness include poor sleep behaviours, poor diet and little physical activity, and illnesses caused by the “alteration of the immune, metabolic, neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous systems.”
Because maltreatment is so strongly linked to chronic illness later in life, governments also need to make a greater push in terms of educating the public about the consequences of child maltreatment. Children should be removed from abusive situations as early as possible but the possible effects of abuse should also be made a big priority. Interventions involving therapy, exercise, mindfulness, and other approaches can be used to ameliorate future effects of negative childhood experiences.
Recent studies have shown that there is a strong link between child abuse and Type 2 diabetes. The latter is a disease that can cause serious complications. It is also related to poor lifestyle habits and choices, including a poor diet, smoking, and lack of activity. Both health professionals and members of the public need further education about the major effects that child abuse can have. This way, child abuse can be prevented but also treated early so as to give children a better chance against developing Type 2 diabetes in their adulthood.