Anorexia linked to metabolism in DNA study, opening new treatment avenues

main lisa sheinfeld
Lisa Sheinfeld, who has battled anorexia off-and-on for two decades. Image: Vince Talotta/Toronto Star

The way we treat anorexia may be changing, thanks to a new study linking the illness to metabolism.

The study, published [July 15] in the journal Nature Genetics, examined the DNA of almost 17,000 people with anorexia nervosa and 55,000 healthy control subjects.

Researchers identified eight genetic markers that correlate the illness, commonly called anorexia, to some of the same genetic factors that also influence the risk for psychiatric disorders — such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression and anxiety; high physical activity; and metabolic and anthropometric traits, such as a low body mass index (BMI).

“It means that when we think about anorexia nervosa we need to be thinking that it is not only a psychiatric disorder, but also a metabolic disorder,” lead researcher Cynthia Bulik told CNN.

Why is that significant? Anorexia is commonly treated as a purely psychiatric disorder — it’s why treatments are primarily focused on behavioral therapy. With this research, more attention would be given to the metabolic components of the illness when providing treatment, which could help improve treatment and save lives.

Read full, original post: Scientists have found that anorexia is linked to metabolism

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