New research indicates that people who led difficult lives during adolescence period will most likely experience health problems in their later life.
According to Dr. Per E. Gustafsson from Umea University in Sweden and colleagues, experience of social and material stressors around the time of transition into adulthood is linked to a rise in disease risk factors in middle age, including higher blood pressure, body weight and cholesterol.
The authors looked at the influence of both social factors and material deprivation during adolescence and adulthood on the physiological wear and tear on the body that results from ongoing adaptive efforts to maintain stability in response to stressors.
The researchers analyzed data for 822 participants in the Northern Swedish Cohort, which follows subjects from the age of 16 for a 27-year period.
They looked at measures of social adversity including parental illness and loss, social isolation, exposure to threat or violence and material adversity including parental unemployment, poor standard of living, low income and financial strain.
They also examined allostatic load or the adaptive efforts, at age 43 based on 12 biological factors linked to cardiovascular regulation, body fat deposition, lipid metabolism, glucose metabolism, inflammation and neuroendocrine regulation.
The researchers found that early adversity involved a greater risk for adverse life circumstances later in adulthood.
The analysis revealed adolescence as a particularly sensitive period for women and young adulthood as a particularly sensitive period for men.
The article has been published online in Springer's journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.