Washington: Frequent abuse by a parent can elevate a child`s cancer risk in adulthood - especially when mothers abuse daughters and fathers their sons, a new study says.
Abuse includes constant belittling, shaming and humiliating a child, exposure to violence or abuse of others (emotional); severe disciplining, such as corporal punishment (physical); and failing to provide for a child`s basic needs - adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or supervision (neglect).
"People often say that children are resilient and they`ll bounce back, but we found that there are events that can have long-term consequences on adult health," said Kenneth Ferraro, professor of sociology at the Purdue University Centre, the Journal of Aging and Health reports.
"In this case, people who were frequently emotionally or physically abused by their parents were more likely to have cancer in adulthood. Overall, the more frequent and intense the abuse, the more it elevated the cancer risk," added Ferraro, according to a Purdue statement.
"We would like to see child abuse noted as an environmental factor that can increase cancer occurrence in adulthood. More research on this topic also could help mediate the effects or improve interventions to help abused children," he added.
Ferraro, who conducted the study with gerontology graduate student Patricia Morton, said: "We started examining a variety of childhood misfortunes, including abuse, and when these were all combined, we found that men with the most stressors during childhood were more likely to develop cancer."
"Other studies have shown that if a mother smokes, the daughter is more likely to smoke, and the same relationship is found when sons mirror their father`s behaviour," Morton said.
"More research is needed, but another possibility is that men may be more likely to physically abuse their sons, and mothers are more likely to physically abuse their daughters," added Morton.
The study`s findings were based on survey data from 2,101 adults in two waves of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the US.
Abuse was one of many childhood misfortunes - including poverty, loss of parent and family educational status - that researchers examined to determine if there was a link to cancer in adulthood.