Bullies may get a long-lasting physical benefit, scientists say

Bullies may gain health benefits that last into adulthood from their behavior, researchers said Monday. And in turn, children who are bullied can suffer long-lasting inflammation.

“Our study found that a child’s role in bullying can serve as either a risk or a protective factor for low-grade inflammation,” William E. Copeland, one of the researchers and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Enhanced social status seems to have a biological advantage.”

Lest readers think researchers are suggesting children be raised to be bullies, Copeland added, “However, there are ways children can experience social success aside from bullying others.”

The work was published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers used the Great Smoky Mountains Study, which has gathered information from 1,420 people from 11 North Carolina counties for more than 20 years. The researchers looked at a marker of inflammation called C-reactive protein. They participants were interviewed and provided blood samples.

C-reactive protein is affected by conditions such as poor nutrition, lack of sleep and infection. “But we’ve found that they are also related to psychosocial factors,” Copeland said.

The researchers looked at victims, “pure” bullies and children who were both. Bullying involves repeatedly mistreating another person to improve or retain one’s status.

Earlier studies have shown that victims of bullies suffer socially and emotionally into adulthood, including increased levels of depression and anxiety. Such children, the researchers said, also report physical problems such as pain and susceptibility to illness.

But, the study said, little is known about how the experience of being bullied is “biologically embedded to influence health status.” One potential mechanism is chronic, low-grade inflammation.

In adults, a high social status, including income or education level, is associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers, the researchers wrote.

“The finding of lower increases in (C-reactive protein) levels for pure bullies into adulthood is novel,” the researchers said, adding that previous work tended to focus on the those who struggled through adversity.

—-

©2014 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital accepting adolescent patients

The facility is the first mental heallth unit in the county to offer in-patient services for children.

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Ian Terry / The Herald Westbound cars merge from Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast onto the trestle during the morning commute on Thursday, March 30 in Lake Stevens. Photo taken on 03302017
Pay a toll on US 2 trestle? 10,000 say no on social media

A GOP lawmaker’s chart shows theoretical toll rates of up to $6.30 to cross the trestle one way.

Teen murder suspect captured — then escapes and is recaptured

The 16-year-old is one of at least three young suspects in the shooting death of an Everett woman.

Most Read