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Genetic cause for irritable bowel syndrome

LOS ANGELES, May 25 (UPI) -- Researchers suggest there is a possible genetic basis for irritable bowel syndrome, which affects nearly one in five U.S. adults.

IBS -- characterized by abdominal pain or cramping and changes in bowel function, including bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation -- accounts for more than one of every 10 doctor visits in the United States.

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"Because we don't understand the causes for the symptoms of IBS, it is difficult to identify a definitive therapy," says Dr. Yuri Saito, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and the study's lead investigator. "This study was one of the first steps in getting at the root of the problem and determining whether there could be a genetic basis for the disorder."

Saito said individuals with IBS estimated that 20 percent of their first-degree relatives had IBS, while those relatives who participated in the study self-reported that 46 percent were actually affected by the disorder.

The control group estimated that 4 percent of their first-degree relatives had IBS, but when the relatives themselves were surveyed, 25 percent were affected, according to the finding reported at Digestive Disease Week 2006 in Los Angeles.

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