- May 5, 2014
Science Daily/Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
One-third of women around the world have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their intimate partners with consequences from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Now, in a new study in 29 low-income and middle-income countries, researchers have identified yet another serious health risk associated with intimate partner violence: smoking.
The researchers examined the association between IPV and smoking among 231,892 women aged 15-29, using information collected in the Demographic and Health Surveys. Intimate partner violence is a serious problem in low- and middle-income countries. Reports of IPV in their study ranged from 9 to 63%. Employing a meta-analysis of country-level data that accounted for confounding factors like age, education, and household wealth, they found a 58% increased risk for smoking among the women who experienced IPV.
Women are thought to smoke tobacco to self-medicate to cope with stress from IPV. Many may be unaware of the serious health risks; tobacco kills half of its users, according to the World Health Organization.
The new study focused on low- and middle-income countries, where little research into the IPV-tobacco link has been done. However, the researchers say their results likely mean that the phenomenon is a global one. They cite among other papers, a 2008 study by Hee-Jin Jun et al that showed increased risk in American women.