The erotic romantic novel by E.L. James, puts women at more risk of succumbing to eating disorders, binge drinking, abusive relationships and having multiple sex partners.
The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Women's Health, was inspired by her systematic analysis last year of abuse patterns in the novel, including intimidation, stalking, verbal abuse, and sexual violence.
The study is one of the first to investigate the relationship between health risks and reading popular fiction depicting violence against women. Past research has tied watching violent television programs to real-life violence and antisocial behaviors, as well as reading glamor magazines to being obsessed with body image.
The researchers studied more than 650 women aged 18-24, a prime period for exploring greater sexual intimacy in relationships, Bonomi said. Compared to participants who didn't read the book, those who read the first "Fifty Shades" novel were 25 percent more likely to have a partner who yelled or swore at them; 34 percent more likely to have a partner who demonstrated stalking tendencies; and more than 75 percent more likely to have used diet aids or fasted for more than 24 hours.
Those who read all three books in the series were 65 percent more likely than non-readers to binge drink - or drink five or more drinks on a single occasion on six or more days per month - and 63 percent more likely to have five or more intercourse partners during their lifetime.
If the behaviors came first, she explained, the book could reaffirm women's experiences and potentially "aggravate trauma." Likewise, if the book came first, it could potentially cause the problems. "So in either case, we see the normalization of extremely problematic and violent behaviors," she said.
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