DNA can be altered by violence

Violence can accelerate aging process in children

The DNA of children exposed to violence shows evidence of aging at an advanced rate, a study finds.

Compiled by researchers at Duke University and King’s College London, the report involved 236 child participants born in England and Wales in 1994-95 and concluded 10-year-olds exposed to violence had shorter telomeres—special age-marking sequences at the ends of chromosomes, according to The Associated Press. When telomeres get too short, the cell stops dividing and eventually dies. Telomere erosion has been linked to age-related disease, cancer and an increased rate of premature death.

The researchers categorized three types of violence exposure: domestic violence between the mother and her partner, frequent bullying, and physical abuse against the child. Children who experience more than one type of violence showed the most accelerated telomere erosion, suggesting traumatic stress and early aging are closely related.