Exposure to Violence Changes Children's DNA

The adage that children raised in rough households grow up fast has some fresh genetic evidence to support it, say Duke researchers who examined age markers in children's DNA.

What's the Latest Development?

The adage that children exposed to violence grow up faster has some fresh genetic evidence to support it. Examining data from a study that tracked 1,100 British families through the 1990s, researchers at Duke University have found that children exposed to two or more kinds of violence exhibited shorter telomeres, parts of our DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes and prevent them from unraveling. "They also get shorter as cells divide, meaning that the gradual loss of telomeres over time is a decent proxy for a person's actual age."

What's the Big Idea?

Children who grow up in stressful home environments age faster than children reared by well-adjusted families. That means they are put at earlier risk for developing age-related diseases like heart disease, diabetes and dementia. The link between violence, telomere loss and age-related disease led Duke psychology professor Terrie Moffitt to conclude that early action is the key to preventing serious disease. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," said Moffitt. "Some of the billions of dollars spent on diseases of aging...might be better invested in protecting children from harm."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

This 5-minute neck scan can spot dementia 10 years before it emerges

The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.

Mikhail Kalinin via Wikipedia
Mind & Brain
  • The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
  • Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
  • The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
Keep reading Show less

Juul to stop selling most e-cigarettes in stores, leaves social media

Facing mounting pressure from the public and government agencies, the e-cigarette maker announced major changes to its business model on Tuesday.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Juul makes flavored e-cigarettes and currently dominates the vaping industry, with 70% of the market share.
  • The FDA is planning to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in gas stations and convenient stores this week.
  • Some have called teenage vaping an epidemic. Data from 2018 show that about 20% of high school students had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
Keep reading Show less