Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Rape Associated with Increases in Headaches, Pain, GI Disorders

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Rape Associated with Increases in Headaches, Pain, GI Disorders

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rape appears to initiate a host of neuroinflammatory changes that could predispose the victim to later inflammatory disease, Maureen Groer, Ph.D., said at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

"Victims of rape experience more headaches, chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, breast cancer, and arthritis--many of which have an inflammatory component," said Dr. Groer, a registered nurse at the University of South Florida, Tampa. 'About a third of them also develop posttraumatic stress disorder, which is also associated with an increase in inflammatory disorders.

"I would suggest that this could be explained by psychoneuroimmunology, in which stressors appear to provoke an immune response that can lead to damage of normal tissues if it is prolonged."

To examine the relationship between rape and inflammatory response, Dr. Groer compared lymphocyte counts and cytokine and hormone levels in a group of 16 healthy control women who had low self-reported stress with those in a group of 15 victims of recent, first-time rape. Blood was collected from the rape victims within 72 hours of their assault (most within 24 hours). The rape victims' mean age was 30 years; that of the control group was 24 years. …

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