How stress and trauma cause overweight, diabetes and cancer in women

Stressful and traumatic events are often very hard to deal with, and it is worse for most women who effortlessly weather the storm with increased waistlines, a new research claims.

A 2016 Time Health report showed the number of overweight or obese Americans was reaching alarming heights with a two-third falling in the category.  The study showed obesity in men plateaued while the rates continued to rise among women .

The U.S. National Institutes of Health said more than one-third of U.S. adults are currently obese.

Overweight in women

According to a report which was presented on 21 Nov., 2017 at the American Heart Association (AHA) annual meeting, in Anaheim, California, researchers analyzed data on nearly 22,000 middle-aged and older women.

The objective of that research was to find the link between obesity and traumatic events such as rape, death of a loved one, physical attack, divorce, bankruptcy, illness, as well as other negative events.

A total of 23 percent of the women who took part in the survey were overweight.

The study revealed that participants who had suffered a traumatic life event were 11% more likely to be obese than those who didn’t.

In addition, those study participants who suffered up to four or more native life events within the last five years had up to 36% chance of being overweight, the findings showed.

Researchers claim there’s a strong link between stressful events and obesity in women with high levels of physical activity. However, the reason for this trend was unclear.

An AHA news report quoted Dr. Michelle Albert as saying, ‘We don’t know much about how negative and traumatic life events affect obesity in women.’

She continued, ‘What we know is that stress affects behavior, including whether people under-eat or over-eat, as well as neuro-hormonal activity by, in part, increasing cortisol production, which is related to weight gain.’

‘We found reasons to back our claims that psychological stress in the form of negative and traumatic life events might represent an important risk factor for weight changes, so we should consider including assessment and treatment of psycho-social stress in approaches to weight management,’ said the professor of medicine and cardiology.

Dr. Albert is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Adversity and Cardiovascular Disease at the University of California, San Francisco.

She said this aspect of research is essential considering the fact that “women are living longer and are prone to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.

‘The potential public health impact is indisputable and overwhelming,’ she said, ‘as obesity is related to increased risks of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer, and contributes to spiraling health care costs.’

There are lots of evidence on the adverse effects of obesity on women’s health. Abdominal obesity, for instance, is central to the metabolic syndrome and is strongly related to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women, health experts said.

Obese women are most likely to suffer diabetes, which in turn, puts them at dramatically increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Obesity increases the chance of several major cancers in women, especially postmenopausal breast cancer and endometrial cancer.

The risk of death for obese people rises with increasing weight, and experts advice changes in diet, lifestyle, policy, cultural norms, as well as physical and social environment as the only ways of curbing the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes.