Linked: Child Abuse and Smoking

Smoker? Victim of child abuse?  If you're the latter, the former is probably you. Researchers for some time have speculated that there's a link between smoking and child abuse.

Now, a new study finds "a connection not between whether or not an abused child will ever begin smoking, but to how much they smoke once they do start," according to newswise.com.

"In other words, people are as likely to smoke whether or not they were sexually or physically abused, but they’re inclined to smoke more if they were abused and have a history of smoking," Todd Herrenkohl, a professor in the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Social Work told newswise.com.

The study, which was done by UW, found that "Boys who had experienced either (sexual or physical) abuse and were smokers, smoked more than those who hadn't been abused as a child."

For girls who smoked, however, "Only those who had been sexually abused smoked more as adolescents."

And, of course, this only led to increased smoking in adulthood, especially among women.

In an earlier study, slightly more than 50 percent -- or five times the national average for children ages 12-17 -- said they had smoked in adolescence. Fifty-seven percent of males and 44 percent of females reported smoking in adolescence. No one quite knows why this is the case but experts think it could be based on socioeconomics or geography, or the fact that participants in this study were already at relatively high risk.

Sadly, years later when participants were evaluated at adults, 49% of both men and women reported smoking in the last year, newswise.com reports.  Lead author of the new study, Allison Kristman-Valente, a doctoral candidate in social work, said what's particularly disturbing is that women who were abused as children now smoke around their children, and those who try to quit have a much harder time than others.

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