Kids who experience physical abuse are more likely to develop cancer in their adult years compared with children who were not abused, indicate researchers from the University of Toronto.

Researchers conducting the Canadian study accounted for the influence of major health factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and lack of physical activity, on abused children, but found that the association between childhood abuse and cancer was still significant.

“Few talk about childhood physical abuse and cancer in the same breath,” said Esme Fuller-Thomson, of the University of Toronto’s faculty of social work and department of family and community medicine. “From a public health perspective, it’s extremely important that clinicians be aware of the full range of risk factors for cancer. This research provides important new knowledge about a potential childhood abuse-cancer relationship.”

Read about three cancer survivors and their risk factors here.