Child abuse and other stress factors can speed up aging process - AmericaNowNews.com

Child abuse and other stress factors can speed up aging process

  • Child abuse and other stress factors can speed up aging processMore>>

  • What to do if you suspect abuse

    What to do when you suspect sexual abuse

    Many people are outraged about child sexual abuse charges ripping across headlines almost every week. Child abuse counselors say a lot more could be done to prevent this from happening in the first place.
    Many people are outraged about child sexual abuse charges ripping across headlines almost every week. But child abuse counselors say a lot more can be done to prevent it from happening in the first place.
  • New retina-scanning device detects child abuse

    New device detects child abuse

    There's a new weapon in the fight against child abuse - a device called "Retscan 3" makes clear and convincing documentation when diagnosing shaken baby syndrome. Dr. Kelechi Iheagwara said shaken baby
    There's a new weapon in the fight against child abuse - a device called "Retscan 3" makes clear and convincing documentation when diagnosing shaken baby syndrome.
  • Signs of abuse in teenage relationships

    Safe dates: Warning signs to look for in your teen's relationships

    If you have a teen or pre-teen in your life, these statistics will surprise you. According to the Safe House for Women in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; national statistics from the Centers for Disease Control
    They may be considered too young to date, but teens and pre-teens are learning the differences between healthy and abusive relationships with the help of the "Safe Date" program.
  • How to report sexual assault

    Reporting sexual assault helps break the cycle

    Rape is one of the most underreported crimes, and advocates for rape victims say it's easy to see why."Instead of the perpetrator being tried, we try the victim. We bring up past behaviors and what they
    Sexual assault is a brutal and devastating crime, and each year in the U.S. there are about 213,000 victims. Reporting this type of crime is very difficult, but if victims don't speak up, the perpetrators may never be caught.
  • Family

    Child sexual abuse victim hopes to help others

    Child sexual abuse victim hopes to save others

    Child sexual abuse is a serious problem in the United States and making this problem even more alarming, the American Psychological Association says, is that 90 percent of victims know their abuser.
    Child sexual abuse is a serious problem in the United States and making this problem even more alarming, the American Psychological Association says, is that 90 percent of victims know their abuser.
  • Safety

    Empower your kids against potential predators

    Empower your kids against potential predators

    Child abductions are increasing across the country and pre-teens are most at risk. We teamed up with the LAPD to find out what kids need to know to prevent -- and survive -- a dangerous situation.
    Child abductions are increasing across the country and pre-teens are most at risk. We teamed up with the LAPD to find out what kids need to know to prevent -- and survive -- a dangerous situation.
  • Inside the mind of a child molester

    Inside the mind of a child molester

    Child sexual abuse is reported up to 80,000 times per year and the number of unreported incidences is likely far greater. We talked to a convicted molester and his victim for more insight on how to protect your kids.
    According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, child sexual abuse is reported up to 80,000 times per year. And what's worse - the number of unreported incidences is likely far greater.

A child abuse report is filed every 10 seconds in the United States, and more than five children die as a result of abuse daily.

In some cases, the physical marks of violence are easy to identify on a child's body, but researchers at Duke University in Durham, N. C., have discovered lifelong damage on the DNA of children who have been abused.

What repeated use does to your sneaker, can tell us an awful lot about what repeated abuse does to a small child.

Laces have plastic caps keeping every thread in place and our shoes in good shape.

Our chromosomes also have caps called telomeres which keep our threads of DNA from unraveling.

The more damage done to a sneaker, the faster the caps wear off and the faster the shoe wears out.

The more abuse a child suffers, the faster their telomeres and, maybe, their life span shortens.

"They are aging at the cellular level at a much faster rate," said Dr. Idan Shalev, a researcher at Duke University.

A research team lead by Shalev studied 118 pairs of twins who had suffered multiple forms of violence, including domestic abuse, physical harm and bullying.

Starting at five years old, those exposed to at least two forms of abuse had shorter telomeres by the age of 10.

"When they reach a very critically short length, they tell the cell to stop dividing," said Shalev.

That means the cell dies.

These DNA caps are like a molecular clock and they show us that stress can speed up a child's biological age.

Even worse, shorter telomeres are associated with chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer.

"So, this is really a sad story," said Shalev. "It screams out to policy makers and to parents as well to try to prevent stress and harm in children."

While a shoelace can be replaced, damaged DNA is far trickier. The study, however, may point to ways in which the shortening can be reversed.

A healthy diet, exercise and meditation may bring back the chromosomal youth lost by these kids.

If that data proves true, then the best investment in our children's preventative care may be in finding ways to stop the abuse to protect them.

Additional Information:  

Dr. Idan Shalev says researchers at Duke University were perplexed over one particular finding. At the age of 10, some of the children had longer telomeres. Researchers don't know why yet, but hope to find clues when they take another look at the children's DNA on their 18th birthday.

The following information is from a study published by Molecular Psychiatry entitled "Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: a longitudinal study" <http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp201232a.html>.

  • Children who are victims of bullying and violence have DNA wear-and-tear that is normally associated with aging.
  • Telomeres are special DNA sequences found at the tips of chromosomes which prevent the DNA from unraveling. The telomeres get shorter each time cells divide which limits the number of times cells can divide.
  • Shorter telomeres have been linked to poorer survival and chronic diseases.
  • This suggests that telomere length may reflect a person's biological age as well as their chronological age.
  • The study was published April 25 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
  • This study is the first of its kind to show that our telomeres can shorten at a faster rate even at a really young age, while kids are still experiencing stress.
  • "Some of the billions of dollars spent on diseases of aging such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia might be better invested in protecting children from harm."

The following information is from a Los Angeles Times article entitled "Exposure to violence in children harms DNA, study says" <http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/25/health/la-he-violence-aging-20120425>.

  • After about 50 to 60 cell divisions, the telomeres become so small that the cell begins to shut itself down.
  • All of the children provided cells through cheek swabs when they were 5 and 10 years old,

 The following information was published by Live Science in an article entitled "Bullying, Child Abuse Hasten Aging in Kids"<http://www.livescience.com/19858-bullying-child-abuse-aging.html>.

  • Telomeres act as a sort of molecular "clock" that signals wear-and-tear on DNA.
  • The violence does not necessarily have to affect the child physically.
  • It's not yet clear how stress translates to shorter telomeres, but inflammation, an immune response to stress, may be to blame. 

The following was published by The University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center in an article entitled "Are Telomeres the key to aging and cancer?" <http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/traits/telomeres/>.

  • Chromosomes are inside the nucleus of a cell.
  • When the telomeres get too short the cell becomes inactive or dies, a process associated with aging, cancer and a higher risk of death.
  • Telomeres are sequences of DNA - chains of chemical code. Like other DNA, they are made of four nucleic acid bases: G for guanine, A for adenine, T for thymine and C for cytosine.
  • Telomeres are made of repeating sequences of TTAGGG on one strand of DNA bound to AATCCC on the other strand. Thus, one section of telomere is a "repeat" made of six "base pairs."
  • In human blood cells, the length of telomeres ranges from 8,000 base pairs at birth to 3,000 base pairs as people age and as low as 1,500 in elderly people. (An entire chromosome has about 150 million base pairs.) Each time a cell divides, an average person loses 30 to 200 base pairs from the ends of that cell's telomeres.
  • Cells normally can divide only about 50 to 70 times, with telomeres getting progressively shorter until the cells become senescent, die or sustain genetic damage that can cause cancer.
  • Without telomeres, the main part of the chromosome - the part containing genes essential for life - would get shorter each time a cell divides. So telomeres allow cells to divide without losing genes. Cell division is needed so we can grow new skin, blood, bone and other cells when needed.
  • Without telomeres, chromosome ends could fuse together and degrade the cell's genetic blueprint, making the cell malfunction, become cancerous or die.
  • An enzyme named telomerase adds bases to the ends of telomeres. In young cells, telomerase keeps telomeres from wearing down too much. But as cells divide repeatedly, there is not enough telomerase, so the telomeres grow shorter and the cells age.
  • Telomerase remains active in sperm and eggs, which are passed from one generation to the next. If reproductive cells did not have telomerase to maintain the length of their telomeres, any organism with such cells soon would go extinct.
  • Cancerous cells divide more often, their telomeres become very short. If it becomes a cancer cell and activates telomerase, the telomeres are prevented from shortening.
  • Geneticist Richard Cawthon and colleagues at the University of Utah found shorter telomeres are associated with shorter lives. Among people older than 60, those with shorter telomeres were three times more likely to die from heart disease and eight times more likely to die from infectious disease.
  • It is not yet known whether shorter telomeres are just a sign of aging - like gray hair - or actually contribute to aging.
  • How many years might be added to our lifespan by completely stopping telomere shortening? Cawthon believes 10 years and perhaps 30 years.
  • A major cause of aging is "oxidative stress." It is the damage to DNA, proteins and lipids (fatty substances) caused by oxidants, which are highly reactive substances containing oxygen. These oxidants are produced normally when we breathe, and also result from inflammation, infection and consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.

The following was published by Childhelp in an online article entitled "National Child Abuse Statistics" <http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics>.

  • Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving 6 million children; that's because reports can include multiple children.        *The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths.
  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
  • More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
  • Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • News on the Road starts in Tifton

    News on the Road starts in Tifton

    Friday, April 18 2014 12:01 PM EDT2014-04-18 16:01:36 GMT
    WALB News 10 is hitting the road for our 60th anniversary. You might remember this photo from 2004. Yolanda, Dawn, and Ben having fun with the Ladies of the Red Hat Society in Tifton for WALB's 50th
    WALB News 10 is on the road for our 60th anniversary. We hope you'll come out to see Yolanda, Ben and Tara Herrschaft and don't forget to take your smart phones.
  • Six deadly foods for dogs

    Six deadly foods for dogs

    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. One woman found that out the hard way when her dog ate a bunch of grapes! Turns out, that's one of the most dangerous foods
    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. But these common snacks could be fatal for Fido.
  • Good for you no bake cookies

    Good for you no bake cookies

    Love the taste of cookies but hate the calories wellness expert Peggy Hall has the magic recipe.
    Love the taste of cookies but hate the calories wellness expert Peggy Hall has the magic recipe.
Powered by WorldNow