Daughters Of Divorced Parents May Be Healthier Than Their Brothers — A Former Teacher’s Perspective
12:30 pm, September 19th | by Cass Daubenspeck
Do the men in your life seem to have a high sensitivity to stress? I used to think women were the more high strung gender, but the female physiological response to stress is not as potentially dangerous as that of a dude.
Studies say men’s bodies release a higher level of cortisol than women in situations that create anxiety, worry and tension. Cortisol is the steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland, responsible for activating anti-stress pathways in the body.
And new studies also report that men with divorced parents have a three-times higher risk of stroke later in life, a risk potentially raised by this higher level of cortisol.
Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson of the University of Toronto study told Medical News Today “It is possible that exposure to the stress of parental divorce may have biological implications that change the way these boys react to stress for the rest of their lives.”
The University of Toronto data also considers another possible explanation for the higher stroke risk in men than women: it’s the loss of the father. Theresa Boyle, Health Reporter for The Toronto Star says “While a younger generation of divorced fathers are in contact with their children, that was not always the case.”
As a former teacher, I’ve seen hundreds of instances where early adverse life experiences impacted a child’s development into adolescence, hindering their ability to deal with stress. I’ve had both boys and girls in my classroom struggle to appropriately channel their anger and emotions. But the majority of those struggling students were boys. And they all had separated or absent parents in common.
The reason divorce may create health risks is because it can result in changes in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal gland axis through which cortisol is produced. It can make permanent alterations in the levels of cortisol that are released to control stress. Boys could, after early traumatic exposure, permanently release high levels of cortisol for each instance of stress, no matter how large or small the matter causing the stress is.
Experts say this data doesn’t mean men with divorced parents are going to have a stroke. But the potential link between an absent father and increased health risks may be something to think about.
[Via Toronto Star]