IS IBS GENETIC?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects millions worldwide, causing abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. While the exact cause of IBS remains unknown, genetics might play a role in its development. A recent study provides evidence to support this hypothesis, suggesting that certain genetic variations may increase a person’s risk of developing IBS. Understanding the genetic basis of IBS could lead to new insights into the condition and potentially help researchers develop more effective treatments for this often debilitating disorder.
Comparing the genetic data of thousands of people with and without IBS, an international research team discovered six genetic differences that are more common in people with IBS than in people without the condition. Surprisingly, most of the altered genes appear to have more clear-cut roles in the brain and possibly the nerves which supply the gut rather than the gut itself.
The researchers also found that the genetic makeup that puts people at an increased risk of developing IBS also increases the risk for common mood and anxiety disorders such as anxiety, depression, neuroticism, and insomnia. However, the researchers stress that this doesn’t mean that anxiety causes IBS symptoms or vice versa.
“Although IBS occurs more frequently in those who are prone to anxiety, we don’t believe that one causes the other – our study shows these conditions have shared genetic origins, with the affected genes possibly leading to physical changes in brain or nerve cells that in turn cause symptoms in the brain and symptoms in the gut,” said Professor Miles Parkes from the University of Cambridge, the study’s co-senior investigator and a consultant gastroenterologist.