(TELEGRAPH) — Smacking children may put them at greater risk of cancer, heart disease and asthma later in life, a controversial study has suggested.

Psychologists asked adults with the diseases if they had been verbally or physically abused as children and found they were more likely to say they had been than healthy adults.

The team from Plymouth University said the stress caused by the smacking or shouting in a child’s early years may lead to biological changes which predisposes to disease.

Other studies have also suggested that severe trauma in childhood such as physical or sexual abuse may lead to an elevated risk of chronic diseases later.

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