In conducting their study, the researchers controlled most of the known risks for stroke, including age, race, income, social support, as well as adult health behaviours such as smoking and exercise, among others.
What they found was that even after adjusting for these factors, men who experienced parental divorce before they turned 18 had a threefold risk of stroke.
A possible reason for the link, say the researchers, could be the body’s regulation of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, though that can’t be said with certainty.
“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,” lead researcher Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Chair at U of T’s Faculty of Social Work, said in a release.
Calling the strong association between parental divorce and stroke “extremely concerning,” Fuller-Thomson said if the findings are replicated and validated by other studies, then health professionals could improve stroke prevention education by including information about a patient’s parental divorce status.
The researchers didn’t find any elevated risk of stroke among women from divorced families.
The study will be published this month in the International Journal of Stroke.
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