In the mid 90s, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente discovered a new risk for disease.
Exposure to this risk dramatically increased the risk of 7 out of 10 of the leading causes of death.
In high doses, this exposure reduces life expectancy by 20 years.
What is this new threat?
Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE.
17,500 adults were given a questionnaire about their exposure to these events in childhood:
- Physical, mental or sexual abuse
- Physical or emotional neglect
- Divorce or parental separation
- Domestic violence
Each yes to one of those events produced one point on the ACE score.
They found that 67% had at least one point.
12.6% or 1 out of 8 had 4 points or more.
The higher the score, the worse the health outcome in adulthood.
For those with 4 or more points, their chances of COPD was 2.5 times more likely.
2.5 times more likely to have hepatitis.
4.5 times more likely to have depression.
12 times more likely to attempt suicide.
With 7 or more points, 3 times likelihood of cancer and 3.5 times more likely to have ischemic heart disease (the #1 killer).
According to pediatrician Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, we now know how ACE affects developing bodies.
ACE affects the nucleus accumbens part of the brain which regulates substance dependency.
ACE inhibits the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for impulse control.
MRI scans show ACE also affects the amygdala. This is the part of the brain responsible for the fight of flight response.
Dr. Robert Block, former president of the American Academy of Pediatricians, says: “Adverse Childhood Experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.”
Children are highly sensitive because of their still developing brains.
ACE affects their immune system and their hormonal system. It even changes how DNA is read and transcribed.
Dr. Burke Harris indicates this cuts across all demographics.
But somehow most folks feel this applies to poor neighbourhoods.
The science tells us otherwise.
The study itself was done on 70% Caucasians. 70% of the study subjects were college educated.
This means it is you and I.
Little is being done, she tells us. The good news is that we have made huge progress on things like cigarette smoking, lead poisoning HIV infections and even PCBs.
So, there is reason to be optimistic.
What can you and I do?
I suspect it is up to each individual. We can’t wait for governmental response. Sometimes governments move at the speed of glaciers.
You and I can choose to use stress release protocols.
There are many.
I use Laughter Yoga, meditation, exercise and food choices among other things.
What are you doing to release stress from the body?
Here is Dr. Burke Harris’ TED talk on this:
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