Irritable bowel syndrome, referred to as IBS, is a medical condition that affects the digestive system, causing symptoms such as bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and more, states the NHS. It has been labeled as a life-long health condition because although it might go away, it can always come back.Medical experts have been unable to determine what causes IBS or a permanent cure. Most of the time, people with IBS are advised to change their dietary habits and manage their stress. One in ten people is diagnosed with IBS, and it can be quite frustrating to suffer from a health condition, which is not well understood.
A study published in the journal of Nature Genetics links anxiety with IBS. The researchers studied over 53,000 people diagnosed with IBS and compared their DNA to that of healthy individuals. The results proved there is a strong genome link between IBS and anxiety. That is to say, abdominal discomfort is not caused by anxiety. IBS is triggered in those who have certain genes responsible for both IBS and anxiety and/or depression.
Women are more affected than men
According to the study, women tend to be more affected by IBS than men. The lead of the study, Prof Miles Parkes, a gastroenterologist at Addenbrookes Hospital, and his team of researchers identified six genes that can be responsible for the link between the mind and our digestive system.
The abstract mentions:
Our study identified and confirmed six genetic susceptibility loci for IBS. Implicated genes included NCAM1, CADM2, PHF2/FAM120A, DOCK9, CKAP2/TPTE2P3 and BAG6. The first four are associated with mood and anxiety disorders, expressed in the nervous system, or both. Mirroring this, we also found strong genome-wide correlation between the risk of IBS and anxiety, neuroticism and depression (rg > 0.5). Additional analyses suggested this arises due to shared pathogenic pathways rather than, for example, anxiety causing abdominal symptoms.
The study has important findings that help doctors understand IBS better, and it leads to more research. This could mean better diagnostic tests and more efficient treatments that could help people the life quality of those diagnosed with IBS.