Study leader Michael Hyland of Plymouth University's School of Psychology said stress caused by spanking or shouting at a child might lead to biological changes that predispose them to disease, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The research team asked 250 healthy adults in Saudi Arabia about their childhood and compared the answers to their health as adults.
The study, published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, found those who had cancer were 70 percent more likely to have been beaten as a child compared with the healthy group. Those with cardiac disease were 30 percent more likely and those with asthma 60 percent more likely, the study said.
"Early life stress in the form of trauma and abuse is known to creating long term changes that predispose to later disease," Hyland said in a statement.
"But this study shows that in a society where corporal punishment is considered normal, the use of corporal punishment is sufficiently stressful to have the same kinds of long-term impact as abuse and trauma. Our research adds a new perspective on the increasing evidence that the use of corporal punishment can contribute to childhood stress, and when it becomes a stressor, corporal punishment contributes to poor outcomes both for the individual concerned and for society."