Health knowledge made personal
Join this community!
› Share page:
Go
Search posts:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Cause Discovered?

Posted Jul 03 2010 6:45pm
 

 

Weekly Health Update:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Cause Discovered?


"A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers..."

 

By, Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS


Photo of Dr. Wascher
   
Updated:  07/04/2010

The information in this column is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or recommendations by the author.  Please consult with your physician before making any lifestyle or medication changes, or if you have any other concerns regarding your health.


Welcome to Weekly Health Update


“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”


 

IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: CAUSE DISCOVERED?

 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood cluster of gastrointestinal (GI) tract symptoms that typically includes varying degrees of abdominal bloating and crampy pain, diarrhea, constipation, and the frequent discharge of mucus-like stools from the rectum.  At any one time, an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all Americans chronically experience one or more of these intestinal symptoms. In most patients with IBS, these symptoms begin in childhood. In the United States, and in most other Western countries, IBS is at least 3 times more common in women than in men although, interestingly, in Southeast Asia, men are 2 to 3 times more commonly afflicted with IBS.

 

Numerous theories about the cause(s) of IBS have been proposed, but none have been definitively proven to cause this common syndrome, thus far. Because the precise cause(s) of IBS has not yet been determined, there is no specific medical test available to diagnose this condition. Likewise, there is no specific treatment available for IBS, although fiber supplements and careful attention to dietary “triggers” are often helpful. Moreover, as IBS is frequently associated with chronic depression and/or anxiety, the use of some types of antidepressant medications has also been associated with an improvement in IBS symptoms.

 

Among the numerous proposed causes of IBS, an excess of a powerful hormone and neurotransmitter, serotonin, within the GI tract has been the focus of considerable research, lately. (Serotonin is also commonly known as 5-HT, which is an abbreviated form of serotonin’s chemical name.) 

 

Serotonin has been shown to have multiple functions within the human body. Decreased serotonin levels in the brain have been associated with both depression and anxiety, which explains why the most commonly used antidepressant medications, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used to treat both chronic depression and anxiety. (Commonly prescribed SSRIs include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Celexa, among others.) Because more than 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the GI tract, SSRI drugs also have a profound effect on GI tract function, in addition to their effects on brain serotonin levels. Indeed, previous observations that certain SSRI antidepressant medications worsen cramping and diarrhea in patients with diarrhea-predominant IBS have at least suggested that serotonin in the GI tract may play an important role in this common form of IBS.

 

Another serotonin-related disease that is associated with severe abdominal cramping and diarrhea is carcinoid syndrome. In this relatively rare condition, serotonin-secreting carcinoid tumors of the GI tract cause profuse, watery diarrhea in affected patients after these tumors spread to the liver.

 

Based upon these apparent clinical links between IBS and serotonin (and for diarrhea-predominant IBS, in particular), additional research into the metabolism of serotonin in the GI tract of IBS sufferers is sorely needed. Fortunately, a newly published research study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Gastroenterology, sheds further light on the potential link between serotonin and at least some forms of IBS.

 

In this novel clinical research study, 98 children with chronic GI tract symptoms were evaluated. Twelve of these children presented with chronic symptoms suggestive of IBS. Endoscopic GI tract biopsies were performed on these 12 children, and the results of these biopsies were compared with similar biopsies performed on other age-matched children who were undergoing endoscopy for reasons other than IBS symptoms.

 

When compared with the biopsy results on the “control” children without IBS symptoms, the children with IBS symptoms were found to have significantly elevated levels of serotonin (5-HT) in the mucosal cells lining their GI tract. At the same time, the children with IBS symptoms were also found to have lower levels of a protein that is responsible for removing serotonin from the GI tract (serotonin transporter protein, or SERT) when compared to the children without IBS symptoms. Therefore, these two findings, in children with chronic IBS symptoms, further and strongly suggest that an excess of serotonin in the gut may be associated with classic IBS symptoms.

 

In view of the varying degrees of diarrhea and constipation (and other IBS-associated symptoms) observed among individual patients considered to have IBS, it is highly likely that this syndrome has more than just one cause. However, the biopsy-proven excess of serotonin in the GI tracts of the 12 children in this study with chronic IBS symptoms is a powerful indication that the abnormal regulation and metabolism of GI tract serotonin likely plays an important (if not causative) role in many, if not most, cases of this chronic and very common GI affliction. The data from this powerful little clinical study also supports the continued development and clinical testing of serotonin/5-HT blocking (antagonist) agents in patients with diarrhea-predominant IBS.

 

For additional information on IBS, please see my previous column on this topic:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber


 
To learn more about the critical role of diet in the prevention of cancer, look for the publication of my new landmark book, “ A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the summer of this year.

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 new and returning readers who visit our premier global health information website every month. As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physicianbeforemaking any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg


 

 

(Anticipated Publication Date: August 2010)


Link to TV36 Interview with Dr. Wascher

(Click above image for TV36 interview of Dr. Wascher)





Send your feedback to Dr. Wascher at:
 

rwascher@doctorwascher.net


Dr. Wascher's Biography


Links to Other Health & Wellness Sites


 

Copyright 2007 - 2010

  

Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

  

All rights reserved


Dr. Wascher's Archives:

6-27-2010:  Soy, Curcumin & Prostate Cancer Risk

6-20-2010:  Green Tea Epicatechin Reduces Heart Damage & CHF

6-13-2010:  Diacylglycerol (Diglyceride) Oil Reduces Obesity

6-6-2010:   Important New Advance in the Breast Cancer Treatment: Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

5-30-2010:  Medical Research Studies & “Spin”

5-23-2010:  Soy & Curcumin Reduce Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)

5-16-2010:  Coffee & the Risk of Death from Heart Disease & Cancer

5-9-2010:     Soy Foods & Stomach Cancer Risk

5-2-2010:    Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer & Memory Loss

4-25-2010:    Smoking, Teenagers & Tobacco Company Advertising

4-18-2010:    Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels

4-11-2010:   Cruciferous Vegetables, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk

4-4-2010:     Avodart (Dutasteride) & Prostate Cancer Prevention

3-28-2010:   Aspirin & Breast Cancer Survival

3-21-2010:   Obesity, Alcohol & Liver Disease

3-14-2010:   Nuts, Diet & Obesity

3-7-2010:      Walnuts, Cholesterol, LDL & Triglycerides

2-28-2010:   Soy Isoflavones & Recurrent Prostate Cancer

2-21-2010:   Testosterone Supplements in Frail Elderly Men

2-14-2010:   Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Sodas & Juice

2-7-2010:      Vitamin D, Cardiovascular Disease & Death

1-31-2010:   Concord Grape Juice Improves Memory

1-24-2010:   Mozart, Music, Babies & Health

1-17-2010:   Breast Cancer, Physical Therapy & Lymphedema

1-10-2010:   Prevention of Surgical Site Infections (SSIs) after Surgery

1-3-2010:     Ginkgo Biloba, Memory & Cognitive Health

12-20-2009:  CT Scans & Cancer Risk

12-13-2009:  Soy Isoflavones Decrease Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk

12-6-2009:   Salt (Sodium) Intake, Stroke & Cardiovascular Disease

11-29-2009:  Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk

11-22-2009:  Genistein (Soy Isoflavone) & Prostate Cancer

11-15-2009:  Breast Cancer Treatment & Chronic Pain

1-8-2009:      Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk

11-1-2009:   Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk

10-25-2009:  HPV Virus & Risk of Breast Cancer

10-18-2009:   Post-Cholecystectomy Syndrome (Symptoms after Gallbladder Surgery)

10-11-2009: Vitamin D & Falls in the Elderly

10-4-2009:    Surgery, NSQIP, Complications & Death

9-27-2009     Stress, Heart Disease, Exercise & Death

9-20-2009:    Vitamin D & Colorectal Cancer Survival

9-13-2009:    H1N1 Swine Flu Update

9-7-2009:      Green Tea, Aging & Lifespan

8-30-2009:    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber

8-23-2009:   Update on Prostate Cancer and Cryotherapy

8-16-2009:    Exercise Improves Lymphedema Symptoms in Breast Cancer Survivors

8-9-2009:    Breast Cancer Recurrence, Death & Vitamin D

8-2-2009:    Honesty, Dishonesty & Brain Function

7-26-2009:    Coronary Artery CT Scans & Cancer Risk

7-19-2009:    Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & Ovarian Cancer

7-12-2009:    Breast Cancer & Metformin (Glucophage)

7-5-2009:     Prostate Cancer & Green Tea

6-28-2009:    Air Pollution & the Risk of Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)

6-21-2009:    Red Yeast Rice, Statins & Cholesterol

6-14-2009:    Bone Marrow Stem Cell Transplant & Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

6-7-2009:     Diet, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk

5-31-2009:    Diet and Prostate Cancer Risk

5-24-2009:    Diabetes, Glucose Control & Death

5-17-2009:    Drug Company Marketing & Physician Prescribing Bias

5-10-2009:    Hemorrhoids & Surgery

5-3-2009:      Statin Drugs & Blood Clots (Thromboembolism)

4-26-2009:    Are We Really Losing the War on Cancer?

4-19-2009:     Exercise in Middle Age & Risk of Death

4-12-2009:    Can Chronic Stress Harm Your Heart?

4-5-2009:      Does PSA Testing for Prostate Cancer Save Lives?

3-22-2009:    CABG Surgery vs. PCI in Diabetics with Coronary Artery Disease; Sweetened Beverages and Coronary Artery Disease

3-15-2009:    Depression, Stress, Anger & Heart Disease

3-8-2009:     Coronary Artery Disease: CABG vs. Stents?; Swimming Lessons & Drowning Risk in Children

3-1-2009:     Aspirin & Colorectal Cancer Prevention; Fish Oil & Respiratory Infections in Children

2-22-2009:  Health Differences Between Americans & Europeans; Lycopene & Prostate Cancer

2-15-2009:  Statin Drugs & Death Rates; Physical Activity, Breast Cancer & Sex Hormones

2-8-2009:    Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & Breast Cancer; Stool DNA Testing & Cancer of the Colon & Rectum

2-1-2009:   Obesity and the Complications of Diverticulosis (Diverticulitis & Bleeding); Obesity, Weight Loss & Urinary Incontinence

1-25-2009:  Prostate Cancer, Fatigue & Exercise; Does your Surgeon “Warm-up” Before Surgery?

1-18-2009:  Cancer and Vitamins; Teenagers, MySpace and Risky Behaviors

1-11-2009:  Exercise Reverses Some Effects of Fatty Meals; Vitamin C and Blood Pressure

1-4-2009:    Secondhand Smoke & Heart Attack Risk; Poor Physical Fitness During Childhood & Heart Disease Risk During Adulthood

12-28-2008:  Stress & Your Risk of Heart Attack; Vitamin D & the Prevention of Colon & Rectal Polyps

12-21-2008:  Breast Cancer Incidence & Hormone Replacement Therapy; Circumcision & the Risk of HPV & HIV Infection

12-14-2008:  Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Selenium Do Not Prevent Cancer; Postscript: A Possible Cure for Down’s Syndrome

12-7-2008:    Generic vs. Brand-Name Drugs, Stress & Breast Cancer Survival

11-30-2008:  A Possible Cure for Down’s Syndrome?; Smoking & Cognitive Decline; Calcium & Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk

11-23-2008:   Breast Cancer & Fish Oil; Lymphedema after Breast Cancer Treatment; Vasectomy & Prostate Cancer Risk

11-16-2008:   Vitamin E & Vitamin C: No Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk; Does Lack of Sleep Increase Stroke & Heart Attack Risk in Hypertensive Patients?

11-9-2008:     Statins Cut Heart Attack Risk Even with Normal Cholesterol Levels; Statins & PSA Level

11-2-2008:     Radiation Treatment of Prostate Cancer & Second Cancers; Sexual Content on TV & Teen Pregnancy Risk

10-26-2008:   Smoking & Quality of Life

10-19-2008:   Agent Orange & Prostate Cancer

10-12-2008:   Pomegranate Juice & Prostate Cancer

10-5-2008:    Central Obesity & Dementia; Diet, Vitamin D, Calcium, & Colon Cancer

9-28-2008:    Publication & Citation Bias in Favor of Industry-Funded Research?

9-21-2008:    Does Tylenol® (Acetaminophen) Cause Asthma?

9-14-208:     Arthroscopic Knee Surgery- No Better than Placebo?; A Healthy Lifestyle Prevents Stroke

8-23-2008:   Alcohol Abuse Before & After Military Deployment; Running & Age; Running & Your Testicles

8-12-2008:   Green Tea & Diabetes; Breastfeeding & Adult Cholesterol Levels; Fish Oil & Senile Macular Degeneration

8-3-2008:    Exercise & Weight Loss; Green Tea, Folic Acid & Breast Cancer Risk; Foreign Language Interpreters & ICU Patients

 

7-26-2008:   Viagra & Sexual Function in Women; Patient-Reported Adverse Hospital Events; Curcumin & Pancreatic Cancer

7-13-2008:   Erectile Dysfunction & Frequency of Sex; Muscle Strength & Mortality in Men; Cryoablation for Prostate Cancer

7-6-2008:   Sleep, Melatonin & Breast Cancer Risk; Mediterranean Diet & Cancer Risk; New Treatment for Varicose Veins

6-29-2008:   Bone Marrow Stem Cells & Liver Failure; Vitamin D & Colorectal Cancer Survival; Green Tea & Colorectal Cancer

6-22-2008:   Obesity, Lifestyle & Heart Disease; Effects of Lifestyle & Nutrition on Prostate Cancer; Ginkgo Biloba, Ulcerative Colitis & Colorectal Cancer

6-15-2008:   Preventable Deaths after Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery; Green Tea & Colorectal Cancer; Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) & St. John’s Wort

6-8-2008:   Vitamin D & Prostate Cancer Risk; Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Kidney (Renal) Cancer; Antisense Telomerase & Cancer

6-2-2008:   Acute Coronary Syndrome- Do You Know the Symptoms?; Green Tea & Lung Cancer; Episiotomy & Subsequent Deliveries- An Unkind Cut

5-25-2008:   Early Childhood Screening Predicts Later Behavioral Problems; Psychiatric Disorders Among Parents of Autistic Children; Social & Psychiatric Profiles of Young Adults Born Prematurely

5-18-2008:   Can Statins Reverse Coronary Artery Disease?; Does Breast Ultrasound Improve Breast Cancer Detection?; Preventive Care Services at Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Centers

5-11-2008:   Smoking Cessation & Risk of Death; Childhood Traumas & Adult Suicide Risk; “White Coat Hypertension” & Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

5-4-2008:   Super-Size Me: Fast Food’s Effects on Your Liver; Exercise, Weight & Coronary Artery Disease; Contamination of Surgical Instruments in the Operating Room

4-27-2008:   Stents vs. Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease; The “DASH” Hypertension Diet & Cardiovascular Disease Prevention; Testosterone Therapy for Women with Decreased Sexual Desire & Function

4-20-2008:   BRCA Breast Cancer Mutations & MRI Scans; Bladder Cancer Prevention with Broccoli?; Diabetes: Risk of Death Due to Heart Attack & Stroke

4-13-2008:   Breast Cancer Recurrence & Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT); Carotid Artery Disease: Surgery vs. Stents?; Statin Drugs & Cancer Prevention

4-6-2008:   Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Pap Smear Results & Cervical Cancer; Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection & Oral Cancer; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & the Risk of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)

3-30-2008:   Abdominal Obesity & the Risk of Death in Women; Folic Acid Pretreatment & Heart Attacks; Pancreatic Cancer Regression after Injections of Bacteria

3-23-2008:   Age of Transfused Blood & Risk of Complications after Surgery; Obesity, Blood Pressure & Heart Size in Children

3-16-2008:   Benefits of a Full Drug Coverage Plan for Medicare Patients?; Parent-Teen Conversations about Sex; Soy (Genistein) & Prostate Cancer

3-9-2008:   Flat Colorectal Adenomas & Cancer; Health Risks after Stopping Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT); Television, Children & Obesity 

3-2-2008:   Medication & Risk of Death After Heart Attack; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & Mammogram Results; Selenium: Cancer, Heart Disease & Death

2-23-2008:   Universal Healthcare Insurance Study; Glucosamine & Arthritis

2-17-2008:   Exceptional Longevity in Men; Testosterone & Risk of Prostate Cancer; Smoking & Pre-malignant Colorectal Polyps

2-10-2008:   Thrombus Aspiration from Coronary Arteries; Intensive Management of Diabetes & Death; Possible Cure for  Down's Syndrome?

2-3-2008:   Vitamin D & Cardiovascular Health; Vitamin D & Breast Cancer; Green Tea & Colorectal Cancer

1-27-2008:   Colorectal Cancer, Esophageal Cancer & Pancreatic Cancer: Update from the 2008 American Society of Clinical Oncology's Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium

1-20-2008:   Testosterone Levels & Risk of Fractures in Elderly Men; Air Pollution & DNA Damage in Sperm; Statins & Trauma Survival in the Elderly

1-12-2008:   Statins, Diabetes & Stroke and Obesity; GERD & Esophageal Cancer

1-7-2008:   Testosterone Supplements in Elderly Men; Colorectal Cancer-- Reasons for Poor Compliance with Screening Recommendations

12-31-2007:   Minority Women, Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer; Does Health Insurance Improve Health?

12-23-2007:  Is Coffee Safe After a Heart Attack?; Impact of Divorce on the Environment; Hypertension & the Risk of Dementia; Emotional Vitality & the Risk of Heart Disease

12-16-2007:   Honey vs. Dextromethorphan vs. No Treatment for Kids with Night-Time Cough, Acupuncture & Hot Flashes in Women with Breast Cancer, Physical Activity & the Risk of Death, Mediterranean Diet & Mortality  

12-11-2007:   Bias in Medical Research; Carbon Nanotubes & Radiofrequency: A New Weapon Against Cancer?; Childhood Obesity & Risk of Adult Heart Disease

12-2-2007:   Obesity & Risk of Cancer; Testosterone Level & Risk of Death; Drug Company Funding of Research & Results; Smoking & the Risk of Colon & Rectal Cancer 


Dr. Wascher's Home Page


Post a comment
Write a comment: