Ulcerative Colitis Likely to Develop in Physically or Sexually Abused Adults

Adults who experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime have a higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis (UC).

Adults who experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime have a higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis (UC).

Results from a study conducted by Esme Fuller-Thomson, PhD, University of Toronto, Canada, and her colleagues were recently published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

A secondary data analysis — the study incorporated a subsample of the nationally representative 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health (21,852).

The survey’s response rate was 68.9% and the survey itself focused on three childhood adversities (separately for UC and Crohn’s disease (CD)) like physical abuse, sexual abuse, and witnessing parental domestic violence

Fuller-Thomson, remarked, “We found that one-quarter of adults with UC reported they had been physically abused during their childhood, compared to one in 10 of those without inflammatory bowel disease.”

“Occurrences of UC were also more than twice as high in individuals who reported that during their childhood an adult had forced them or attempted to force them into any unwanted sexual activity, by threatening them, holding them down, or hurting them, in comparison to those who had bot been sexually abused. These strong associations remained even after we too into account socio-demographic characteristics, mental health conditions, and health behaviors,” said Joanne Sulman, MSW, adjunct lecturer, University of Toronto.

The researchers were surprised to find there was no association between childhood abuse and CD, because as a form of IBD, the team expected to find some variation of a correlation.

They also noted that further studies are necessary to thoroughly examine all possible pathways linking early abuse and UC.