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'Families' - Doesn’t Cause Anorexia Nervos

men and men to develop an eating disorder. Many individuals in our culture, for a number of reasons, are concerned with their weight and diet. Yet less than half of 1 percent of all women develop anorexia nervosa, which indicates to us that societal pressure alone isn't enough to cause someone to develop this disease," said Walter H. Kaye, M.D., professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"Our research has found that genes seem to play a substantial role in determining who is vulnerable to developing an eating disorder. However, the societal pressure isn't irrelevant; it may be the environmental trigger that releases a person's genetic risk." Families should not be blamed for causing anorexia. In fact, they are often devastated and suffer from the consequences of this illness."

Anorexia nervosa is a serious and potentially lethal illness, with a mortality rate greater than 10 percent. It is characterized by the relentless pursuit of thinness, emaciation and the obsessive fear of gaining weight. Anorexia nervosa commonly begins during adolescence, but strikes throughout the lifespan - it is nine times more common in females than in males. Personality traits, such as perfectionism, anxiety and obsessionality, are often present in childhood before the eating disorder develops and may contribute to the risk of developing this disorder.

"We need to understand all the factors that influence eating disorders, both genetic and environmental, and find ways to address them in order to prevent people from developing these potentially deadly conditions," said Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., William and Jeanne Jordan Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Understanding how genes and environment interact both to increase risk for eating disorders and to protect those who are genetically vulnerable from developing the disorder will require the cooperation of profes
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