Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Genetics Explains Anorexia Nervosa

Once again technology, medicine and genetic research help to explain psychological and psychiatric disorders. What we can learn from these advances are that psychological disorders are real, often have a medical basis and should not be viewed as a shameful, character flaw in a child, adolescent or adult.

A new study from the March 2006 Archives of General Psychiatry exploring anorexia in twins concluded that more than half a person's risk for developing the eating disorder is determined by genes. Though most experts already believe there is a strong genetic component, this study "hammers home the fact that these are biologically based disorders," said Cynthia Bulik, lead author of the study who is a psychiatrist at the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Walter Kaye, a psychiatry professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says that "The next step, of course, will be to determine what the biology is, what genes are involved and what difference they make as far as how the brain works."

Woohoo, I think genetic research is so cool.

Bulik, C.; Sullivan; P.F.; Tozzi; F.; Furberg. H. ; Lichtenstein, P.; Pedersen, N.L. (2006). Prevalence, heritability, and prospective risk factors for anorexia . Archives of General Psychiatry, 63:305-312.