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Association between adverse childhood experiences and diagnosis of cancer

Brown, M.J., Thacker, L.R., and Cohen, S.A. – 2013

Report of a study on the connection between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the development of adulthood cancers. Notes that ACEs are already associated with lung cancer, and discusses the link between adverse childhood experiences and smoking. Authors analyzed health data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Results show that over 62% of respondents had at least one ACE. 10% of respondents had a diagnosis of cancer, mostly in adulthood. Authors divide ACEs into categories (including exposure to drug and alcohol use). Respondents who reported ACEs in the category of sexual abuse had the highest incidence of cancer diagnosis in adulthood. Authors suggest that traumatic childhood experiences contribute to risky sexual behavior, smoking, and chronic diseases. They also note the connection between ACEs and acute stress, citing the negative impact of stress on overall health. Discusses the importance of screening for ACEs in routine healthcare situations.