Research Suggests Surprising Link Between Bullying And Health


UPDATED: Friday May 16, 2014 5:37 AM

CBS NEWS - A new study reveals surprising links between bullying and health.

Duke researchers say kids who were picked on can suffer lasting effects, but the bullies could be healthier in one important area.

The Great Smoky Mountains study, started in 1993, was conducted on 1,420 children ages 9 to 21. It's the first study, CBS News' Dr. Holly Phillips explained, that found a long-term physical effect of bullying.

"They measured an important biomarker of inflammation in their blood," Phillips said. "It turns out the bullies had the lowest amount of inflammation and the kids who were bullied had the highest amounts and that can have long-term health effects."

Researchers measured C-reactive protein or CRP, a marker that can directly raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, Phillips continued.

"We are looking at kids who are bullied having higher amounts of this inflammation going into adulthood, which implies they could have long-term health effects," Phillips said.

The largest group of people studied were bullies who were bullied, Phillips said.

"There's pure bullies, who only do the bullying. There are bully victims who are only bullied. The largest group is somewhere in the middle, kids who are bullied and do some bullying themselves," she said.

"Not surprisingly their levels of inflammation are also right in the middle. The study didn't prove a cause and effect. This is much more of a link. But it's not a license to bully. You know, I would never prescribe bullying to improve one's health."