Eating Disorders Linked to Autoimmune Disease

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A recent study has found an association between numerous autoimmune diseases and the presence of eating disorders. The researchers also believe these autoimmune diseases may play a role in the development of eating disorders.

The study, published online Aug. 22 in PLoS One, evaluated over 2,000 Finnish people who were diagnosed with eating disorders. According to the findings, the those who were living with eating disorders were also more likely to have an autoimmune disease compared to healthy individuals.

“I was surprised about the robust link that we found between autoimmune diseases and eating disorders,” lead author Anu Raevuori, MD, PhD, from the Department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki, Finland, told Medscape Medical News.

The researchers examined 2,342 individuals with bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder who were being treated in an eating disorder unit located in Helsinki. Each participant was then compared with four age and sex matched healthy people.

The findings showed that 8.9% of the people identified with eating disorders and 5.4% of the control participants had been diagnosed with at least one autoimmune disease by the end of follow-up. Interestingly, autoimmune disease was more prevalent in men with bulimia nervosa than for women with the condition.

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