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Eating disorder patients have increased risk for autoimmune conditions

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A link between eating disorders and several autoimmune diseases has been discovered by Finnish researchers, suggesting that eating disorder risk could be higher in people with conditions like type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki, aimed to address the prevalence of autoimmune conditions among patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

"We found that of patients with eating disorders, 8.9% had been diagnosed with one or more autoimmune diseases," said Dr. Anu Raevuori. "Of the control individuals, the number was 5.4%."

More research needed

Eating disorder risk has also been linked to some somatic illnesses, the researchers explained, while autoimmune conditions have been shown to increase risk for mood disorders and schizophrenia.

"Our findings support the link between immune-mediated mechanisms and development of eating disorders," Dr. Raevuori said. "Future studies are needed to explore the risk of autoimmune diseases and immunological mechanisms in individuals with eating disorders and their family members."