Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Presence of Cancer Risk Factors in Adulthood: A Scoping Review of the Literature From 2005 to 2015

J Pediatr Nurs. 2019 Jan-Feb:44:81-96. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2018.10.009. Epub 2018 Nov 7.


Exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is associated with a host of harmful outcomes, including increased risk for cancer. A scoping review was conducted to gain a better understanding of how ACEs have been studied in association with risk factors for cancer. This review includes 155 quantitative, peer-reviewed articles published between 2005 and 2015 that examined associations between ACEs and modifiable cancer risk factors, including alcohol, environmental carcinogens, chronic inflammation, sex hormones, immunosuppression, infectious agents, obesity, radiation, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and tobacco, among U.S. adults. This review highlights the growing body of research connecting ACEs to cancer risk factors, particularly alcohol, obesity, and tobacco. Fewer studies investigated the links between ACEs and chronic inflammation or infectious agents. No included publications investigated associations between ACEs and environmental carcinogens, hormones, immunosuppression, radiation, or ultraviolet radiation. Mitigating the impact of ACEs may provide innovative ways to effect comprehensive, upstream cancer prevention.

Keywords: Adverse Childhood Experiences; Cancer prevention; Cancer risk; Child abuse and neglect prevention; Scoping review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • United States