Is a Bacterium Responsible for Anorexia?
Anorexia is an eating disorder known to every single one of us, mostly because of the great publicity it has gained in the mainstream media. It is a very serious condition that can have devastating effects, both physical and psychological, so it should come as no surprise that its mortality rate is quite high.
The really discouraging fact about anorexia is the amount of information scientists have about it. One would expect that with so many incidents worldwide and the ability of patients to fully communicate with the medical examiners and describe their symptoms accurately etc, we would have many pieces of vital information and have already worked out an effective treatment. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth for now. But, things may soon change.
A paper published by a team of medical researchers from the United Kingdom states that the origin of the disease is not what we thought it to be. According to the team, a bacterium is responsible for the development of the disease. As if this wasn’t a big enough breakthrough, the paper also links the aforementioned bacterium to two other medical conditions: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
The idea behind this suggestion is that the human body creates antibodies for this bacterial infection but, for some reason, they stop fighting these particular bacteria and turn on the patient’s nerve cells instead, which lead to some mental disorders as well.
However, this is nothing more than an early hypothesis yet. But experts who have studied it suggest that it has a pretty strong basis and if confirmed, its significance will be enormous since it will offer clear insight about the cause of not one but three different diseases.
Even though the study could answer a really important question, it raises another one: if anorexia is caused by a bacterium, could that mean that is also contagious? No indication of such a characteristic has been spotted so far. Until now, it is considered to be caused by social and psychological reasons.
This is another case where we are witnessing the first steps in a long journey to unlock the mysteries of a disease that is affecting a relatively big number of people, the overwhelming majority of them being women. If this hypothesis is verified then we are closer to the treatment than ever, if it does not, we will at least have eliminated one of the “suspects” and will be able to focus on other possible causes.