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Thyroid Disorders Linked To Child Abuse In Women

University of Toronto
Thyroid Nation

Child abuse and thyroid disease

U. TORONTO (CAN) — Being physically abused as a child raises a woman’s odds of developing a thyroid disorder by as much as 40 percent.

“We found a significant association with thyroid disorders for women, who were abused during childhood,” says Esme Fuller Thomson, professor of social work at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study that details the findings.

“We originally thought the link would be explained by factors such as daily stress, smoking, or alcohol abuse—characteristics associated with both childhood physical abuse and thyroid disorders.

“But even after adjusting for 14 potential explanatory factors, women who had been physically abused in childhood had 40 percent higher odds of thyroid disorders than their non-abused peers.”

“Earlier research had established that childhood sexual abuse is associated with thyroid disorders, our work suggests that another early life stressor, childhood physical abuse, is also related to thyroid dysfunction,” says co-author Farrah Kao, a graduate of the masters of social work program.

For the study, published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, researchers used data from a representative community sample of 13,070 adult Canadians.

More than 1,000 reported being physically abused by someone close to them before they turned 18 and 906 said they had been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder by a health professional.

“The enduring effects of childhood maltreatment may be due to the way early traumas change the way an individual reacts to stress throughout life,” says co-author Loriena Yancura, associate professor of family and consumer sciences at the University of Hawaii.

“One important avenue for future research is to investigate potential dysfunctions in the production of the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, cortisol, among survivors of abuse.”

**Article originally featured at University of Toronto**

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  1. Can this also apply to men who were abused as young boys? I think the research at the University of Toronto involved only women, as men never come forth on this issue.

    • That is a great question, Randy. At this time, I don’t have any information that supports that. I do think you are correct in saying it is more difficult to get men to participate under these circumstances. I’ll keep ya posted, and vice versa, if I find anything.

      Thank you, sir~

  2. I was abused mentally, physically and sexually when I was a child. And was in a couple of abusive relationships. Had a total thyroidectomy 5 years ago.

    • Hi Dee,

      I’m so very sorry to hear that. Thank you for your comment. It truly does help others to see this and not feel so alone. How are you feeling now?

      You can email me at Thanks and have a Happy New Year. ~Danna

  3. I’ve been experiencing fatigue and joint pains among other symptoms after the birth of my child and layoff from work. Lots of stress! My blood work has been normal, but I have small nodules on thyroid. Emotional and physical abuse was a big part of my childhood.

    I am interested on any helpful information!

  4. Andrea cleaver on

    Hi. On reading your article. I was very surprised. To read that thyroid problems could be down to being abused as a child. I am 54 now .and hv been on thyroxine for 5 years. And was abused as a child 7yrs old. To say the least I am gobsmacked.

  5. What an interesting article! I too was abused, physically, verbally and sexually. Different people did different things, but all family members. There was also real poverty, sometimes only 1 meal a day of a slice of bread and gravy. i have often wondered if this was related to my health.

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