New Study Links Gene to Anorexia: Treatment Options Shared

Anorexia nervosa genetic link

With 1% of the female gender suffering from anorexia, finding a genetic source becomes invaluable in discovering better treatments. When it’s a cholesterol metabolism regulating enzyme that’s caught as culprit, it makes the mood alterations leading to disruptions in eating behaviour understandable.

Anorexia was first discovered as a disease in 1689, though it was only of late that it was declared a serious medical problem with the need for treatment. Professor Nicholas J. Schork of the Scripps Research Institute published his finding in a study looking at 1200 anorexic and about 2000 non-anorexic females, finally discovering that a common gene known as EPHX2 was ever present in anorexic individuals and seemingly out of place. It was discovered that this is, in fact, an enzyme known to control cholesterol metabolism. Furthermore, it manifested in different forms within anorexic women, which would constitute to the high cholesterol levels found in women suffering from this psychological turned eating disorder.


According to the American Psychological Association, if left untreated anorexia can lead to:

  • • Osteoporosis
  • • Cardiac problems
  • • Infertility
  • • Depression
  • • Relationship difficulties
  • • Suicide and death from overdose on medication

The Mayo Clinic has prepared a list of treatments that help alleviate the symptoms of this disorder. Previous studies have also found a rather interesting link between anorexia and alcoholism.

Medical care: Health officials keep watch over the anorexic, including a psychologist for the “fat” belief and dietician to ensure meals contain proper nutrition and are taken in time.
Psychotherapy: This includes individual therapy tailored to the patient and with a goal to improve self-confidence, through the process of cognitive-behavioural therapy. Family therapy is utilized to involve others in the decision-making process, solving possible conflicts between family members along the way. Group therapy can be quite beneficial if structured well and done right with a trained professional, or else it might push the patients into a competition over who can be the thinnest of all.
Medications: Though there are no particular anorexia treating meds, antidepressants are common prescriptions to help pull the patient back to this world.
Hospitalization: in extreme cases, hospitalization becomes necessary, especially in admitting the anorexic into a building full of staff trained in eating disorders
directly and with the ability to make a difference.

There has also been research linking anorexia to drinking disorders as mentioned, portraying that eating and drinking problems have some basic roots and treating one can lead to treating both at the time. Furthermore, other research has shown a link between eating disorders and autism. This discovery certain opens the doors to understanding how to prevent the disorder from taking root. There will a day when anorexia will no longer be deemed a dangerous problem, we hope!