Abuse linked to higher risk of developing diabetes, UK researcher says

Abuse linked to higher risk of developing diabetes, UK researcher says
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 2:17 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A researcher at the University of Kentucky is part of a group that found that a lifetime of interpersonal violence or child abuse is linked to a more than 20% increased risk of developing diabetes.

“Our state, unfortunately, has the highest child abuse rate in the nation,” said Dr. Ann Coker. “We are, depending how you measure this, between the second and the fourth highest state in the nation for intimate partner violence, and then we have a major chronic disease that may be associated with it.”

Dr. Coker is the interim executive director of UK’s Center for Research on Violence Against Women, a professor of epidemiology and a lead investigator in the study.

Dr. Coker worked on this study with researchers at Meharry Medical College in Nashville. She says it includes about 25,000 participants from a diverse population who shared their experiences with violence between 2002 and 2015. Though, the length of time the violence occurred wasn’t measured.

“There may be aspects of what happens when a person experiences violence that may increase their risk of developing diabetes,” Dr. Coker said.

Dr. Coker says when someone experiences chronic stress from interpersonal violence or abuse, the body responds by raising cortisol levels and suppressing insulin levels. Diabetes is a disease that either stops the body from making insulin or using it appropriately to regulate blood sugar.

“Preventing violence could prevent diabetes,” Dr. Coker said.

Dr. Coker encourages people to seek help if they’re experiencing violence or abuse and that bystander interventions are also key: If you see something, say something.

“Addressing the issue when there’s a suspicion. When you have a gut reaction to a situation, it’s a good time to follow your gut,” Dr. Coker said.