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Domestic Violence Boosts Smoking Risk

Update Date: May 05, 2014 07:02 PM EDT
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Victims of domestic violence are more likely to turn to tobacco. The latest findings are worrying, as one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their intimate partners.

Victims of intimate partner violence are more likely to from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, and sexually transmitted diseases. However, the latest study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health reveals that victims of intimate partner violence are also more likely to take up smoking.

The latest involved 231,892 women aged 15-29, using information collected in the Demographic and Health Surveys.

After using meta-analysis of country-level data that accounted for confounding factors like age, education, and household wealth, researcher discovered that women who've suffered domestic violence are 58 percent more likely to smoke.

Researchers believe women smoke to self-medicate to cope with stress from being abused by their partners.

"A recent WHO report on IPV recommended that there is a clear need to scale-up efforts to both prevent IPV from happening in the first place and to provide necessary services for women experiencing IPV," senior author Peter A. Muennig, MD, MPH, associate professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, said in a news release.

"Smoking is associated with cardiovascular disease, and therefore may explain part of the association between exposure to IPV and cardiovascular disease," said first author Rishi Caleyachetty, MBBS, PhD, an epidemiologist on a Fulbright Scholarship at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, according to a statement. "However, to my knowledge this has not been extensively examined."

"Information about the consequences of smoking, motivation to quit smoking and smoking-cessation treatments could be incorporated into IPV treatment by healthcare providers who routinely interact with IPV victims," Caleyachetty added.

The findings are published in the journal Global Public Health.

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