BBC News released an article: “Childhood abuse ‘quickens ageing.'”

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

Physical or emotional abuse during childhood could speed up the body’s
ageing process, US research suggests.

A team from Brown University focused on telomeres, the protective caps
on the chromosomes that keep a cell’s DNA stable but shorten with age.

They found the telomeres of 31 people who had reported abuse as children
tended to shorten more rapidly, speeding up cells’ ageing process.

Experts cautioned that the study needed to be replicated on a larger scale.

The study is featured in Biological Psychiatry.

Lead researcher Dr Audrey Tyrka said: “It gives us a hint that early
developmental experiences may have profound effects on biology that can
influence cellular mechanisms at a very basic level.”
Telomeres are relatively short sections of specialised DNA that sit at
the ends of all our chromosomes.

Each time a cell divides, its telomeres shorten and the cell becomes
more susceptible to dying.

Previous research has found that telomeres shorten at an accelerated
rate when exposed to toxins such as radiation and cigarette smoke.

<snip>

The latest study suggests psychological trauma early in life could store
up similar problems for the future.

The researchers concentrated on people who although reporting abuse in
childhood were otherwise healthy and had no signs of current or past
psychiatric disorders.

<snip>

Shorter telomere lengths have been linked to a variety of ageing-related
medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

<snip>

Professor Tim Spector, an expert on telomeres and ageing based at King’s
College London, said: “The study and resulting theory is plausible as
researchers have found previous telomere links with chronic stress.

“However, many different adverse environments are known to reduce
telomeres – such as cigarette smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and
social class as well as genes.

[end excerpts]

The article is online at:
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8369919.stm>

Clipping courtesy of Ken Pope

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