Bullying Could Possibly Lead to Cancer Later in Life

Bullying hurts enough when it's happening.  But a new study has found that its effects last well into adulthood.

According to newswise.com, bullying may have long-term health consequences.

Bullied children may experience chronic, systemic inflammation that persists into adulthood, while bullies may actually reap health benefits of increasing their social status through bullying, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

How depressing is that.  

“Our findings look at the biological consequences of bullying, and by studying a marker of inflammation, provide a potential mechanism for how this social interaction can affect later health functioning,” the Web site quotes William E. Copeland, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine and the study’s lead author.
Is it all in the head?  Researchers think not. Earlier studies have suggested that victims of childhood bullying suffer social and emotional consequences into adulthood, including increases in anxiety and depression. Yet, bullied children also report health problems, such as pain and illness susceptibility, which may extend beyond psychological outcomes.
“Among victims of bullying, there seems to be some impact on health status in adulthood,” Copeland said at newswise.com. “In this study, we asked whether childhood bullying can get ‘under the skin’ to affect physical health.”
Three groups of participants were analyzed: victims of bullying, those who were both bullies and victims, and those who were purely bullies. Although certain blood levels rose for all groups as they entered adulthood, victims of childhood bullying had much higher levels as adults than the other groups. In fact, the levels increased with the number of times the individuals were bullied.
For the young adults who, as kids had both been bullies and victims as children, levels were similar to those not involved in bullying, while bullies had the lowest levels – even lower than those uninvolved in bullying. "Thus, being a bully and enhancing one’s social status through this interaction may protect against increases in the inflammatory marker," the Web site reports.
While bullying is more common and perceived as less harmful than childhood abuse or maltreatment, the findings suggest that bullying can disrupt levels of inflammation into adulthood, similar to what is seen in other forms of childhood trauma.
So why should we worry about inflammation?  Doesn't it just go away eventually?  Scientists are now finding that inflammation is very much linked to cancer.  
Our body’s immune system forms a defensive shield, and one of its most powerful weapons is inflammation, a carefully engineered process designed to eliminate enemies such as bacteria, injured cells and chemical irritants. Without it, we probably wouldn’t survive beyond infancy.

"But inflammation has a split personality – one that can wreak havoc on those unfortunate enough to experience it. And we now know that inflammation’s dark side is a powerful force in cancer development, where it aids and abets tumor growth and spread around the body," notes scienceblog.com.cancerresearchuk.com.

So don't think that bullying ends in childhood for the victim, another reason why it's even more important to do what we can to try to stomp it out now.


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