Want to give up smoking Look back to your youth as childhood trauma could be to blame
Women who were physically or emotionally abused at children were 1.4 times more likely to become a smoker
11:15 GMT, 13 July 2012
The researchers said their study highlighted the role psychological distress may play in choosing to smoke
Women who struggle to give up smoking may do well to look back to their youth, after researchers found a link between the habit and childhood trauma.
Troubled experiences in our formative years can stay with us for life. The team of researchers found that women who were physically or emotionally abused as children were 1.4 times more likely to become a smoker.
They were also more likely to pick up the habit if they had a parent in prison.
Dr Tara Strine, who led the study, said: 'Since adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase the risk of psychological distress for both men and women, it seemed intuitive that an individual experiencing an ACE will be more likely to be a tobacco cigarette smoker.'
However, Dr Strine said this effect principally seen in women, which suggests men have 'different coping mechanisms' for dealing with difficult childhoods.
The new research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy suggests that the decision to start smoking can be linked to difficult events.
The team said the findings could therefore help doctors to develop more effective strategies to help people quit.
They wrote: 'These findings suggest that current
smoking cessation campaigns and strategies may benefit from
understanding the potential relationship between childhood trauma and
subsequent psychological distress on the role of smoking particularly in
Traumas can range from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse to neglect and household dysfunction and affect a large range of people.
Since psychiatric disorders, including
depression and anxiety, are known to increase the risk of smoking,
researchers across the U.S collaborated to investigate the effects of
psychological distress on the relationship between ACE and current adult
The survey included more than 7,000 people, more than half of whom were
women. It revealed over 60 per cent of adults reported a history of at least one adverse childhood event, which have been linked in the past to unhealthy coping behaviours.
The team adjusted the data for factors known to affect a person's propensity for smoking, such as having parents who smoked.
There are thought to be around 10million smokers in the UK. The habit contributes to 120,000 premature deaths each year. It causes serious damage to health and is a known risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, emphysema and lung cancer.
Visit http://smokefree.nhs.uk/ for more information on quitting smoking