Anorexia, or anorexia nervosa, is an eating affliction which causes weight reduction due to fear of weight gaining. People affected by this disorder believe they are overweight and try to become as thin as possible by eating very little, close to nothing, exercising a lot, vomiting or using laxatives. Anorexia can lead to complications, such as bone weakening, the inability to reproduce, heart damage, suicide, etc. A new study showed that anorexia is also a metabolic disorder.
Anorexia is also a metabolic disorder
A new study, printed in Nature Genetics scientific journal, changed what we all knew about anorexia nervosa. The researchers that conducted the study associated the disorder to metabolism and declared that, while anorexia should be further treated as a psychiatric illness, it must also be treated as a metabolic one too.
The same genetic elements that lead to the risk of psychiatric disorders (OCD, depression, anxiety), great physical activity and metabolic attributes (low BMI), can also lead to anorexia. This is why anorexia must also be recognized as a disorder of metabolism. As anorexia nervosa was until now treated employing techniques of behavior therapy, from now on treatment should also focus on other types of medical care.
Researchers analyzed 72,000 DNA samples
To see the connection between anorexia and metabolism, the team of researchers, led by Professor Cynthia Bulik, who is part of the Department of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina and founding director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders among others, analyzed the DNA of 72,000 people. Among them, 17,000 suffered from anorexia, while 55,000 were not.
Professor Bulik believed that, after extensive study and associating with neuroscientists and pharmacogeneticists, some sort of medicine can be invented that could make the disease better. While it might not be enough, only the use of medicine, it might help. The team also plans to expand their research on other types of eating disorders in order to figure out the genetics of these kinds of disorders.
Benjamin Diaz started working for Debate Report in 2017. Ben grew up in a small town in northern Ontario. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife a year later. Benhas been a proud Torontonian for the past 10 years. He covers politics and the economy. Previously he wrote for CTV News and the Huffington Post Canada.