An international study of more than 50,000 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has revealed that IBS symptoms may be caused by the same biological processes as conditions such as anxiety. The research highlights the close relationship between brain and gut health and paves the way for development of new treatments.
IBS is a common condition world-wide, affecting around 1 in 10 people and causing a wide range of symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, and bowel dysfunction that can significantly affect people’s lives. Diagnosis is usually made after considering other possible conditions (such as Crohn’s disease or bowel cancer), with clinical tests coming back ‘normal’. The condition often runs in families and is also more common among people who are prone to anxiety. The causes of IBS are not well understood, but an international team of researchers has now identified several genes that provide clues into the origins of IBS.