Affecting 10 to 15 percent of the world, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is a not-very-fun condition seen in both men and women—but unfortunately, more women suffer from it than men do. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, 35 to 40 percent people who have IBS are male, compared to the whopping 60 to 65 percent who are female. And now new research has taken a step toward explaining why that difference exists.
In a study published in the journal Gastroenterology, researchers analyzed data from more than 330,000 participants in the United Kingdom using the UK Biobank and later investigated more than 2,000 patients around the world (the United States, included). The results showed certain DNA variants—specifically relating to chromosome 9, which is thought to influence the age women have their first period—were linked to an increased risk of IBS in just females.
“Although we cannot point to individual genes at this early stage, we believe these results are exciting, as they converge with existing data on female preponderance and a role of sex-hormones in IBS.” —Study co-author Mauro D’Amato, PhD
“Although we cannot point to individual genes at this early stage, we believe these results are exciting, as they converge with existing data on female preponderance and a role of sex-hormones in IBS,” study co-author Mauro D’Amato, PhD and visiting professor at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine, tells Science Daily.
There’s still very little information available and much more research to be done, but this is a promising step to highlight why IBS is so much more common in females than males, which means medical professionals may be more able to proactively address the issue in the future.
But in the meantime, here are five no-fear foods to eat when IBS is taking over your life.
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