What Are the Risk Factors for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, affects about 11% of the global adult population, making it a serious public health issue. IBS results in significant disability, work and life disruption, and medical costs.
IBS is a complicated problem, because there are many different symptoms and there’s no one clear cause of the problem, even though the latest research indicates that dysbiosis, or a disruption in the healthy gut microbiota plays an important role in the development of this condition.
A 2016 report produced by a group of world experts in IBS described the risk factors that have been identified in the current medical literature:
- Being female
- Being under 50-years-old
- Being breastfed for less than six months as an infant*
- Having an herbivore pet as a child*
- Having low weight at birth*
- Having a low body mass index*
- Illness behaviour
- Low quality of life
- Suffering acute psychological stress
- Stressful life events
- Sexual or physical abuse history
- Anxiety, depression or somatization
- Intimate partner violence*
- Addictive behavior*
- A history of gastrointestinal infection
- Chronic widespread pain (pains, for example, joint pain and migraine)
- Abdominal obesity
- Diverticular disease (left side)
- Antibiotic use
- Abdominal surgery
- Spicy food consumption*
- Sleep problems*
- Low exercise level*
- Growing up in a lower socioeconomic household
- Family history of substance abuse
- Having a family history of mental illness
- Having a job that doesn’t give you much control over your work*
- Working irregular shifts*
- Being single*
- Having a larger family*
- Being exposed to war as a child*
Those conditions marked with (*) indicate single studies that require more research.
Enck P, Aziz Q, Barbara G, et al. Irritable bowel syndrome. Nature Reviews Disease Primers. 2016;2:16014. doi:10.1038/nrdp.2016.14.