Sexual abuse raises girls’ risk of CVD

Elevated CVD risk was seen for women with a history of unwanted sexual touching (increased risk of 10%) or one episode of forced sexual activity (56%) occurring during childhood or adolescence.

In those who reported repeated episodes of forced sex, CVD risk increased 62% compared to women with no history of abuse. 

Severe physical abuse was associated with a 45% increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke.

“The single biggest factor explaining the link… was the tendency of abused girls to have gained more weight throughout adolescence and into adulthood,” said Dr Janet Rich-Edwards, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The study took in data collected from more than 67,000 women in the Nurses Health Study II.

Higher rates of smoking, alcohol use, hypertension and diabetes in women with a history of abuse explained about 40% of their