Anorexia Linked to Hormones in Womb

Study of mixed-sex twins suggest hormones tied to females may trigger disease
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2007 4:30 AM CST
A woman looks at a giant poster showing a naked emaciated woman, part of a campaign against anorexia by Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Sept, 25, 2007. Experts say that...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Nobody's knows exactly why women are far more likely to develop anorexia than men, but hormones released in the womb could be the cause, according to a new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers have found that men with a female twin are more at risk of developing the disease, leading scientists to theorize that hormones released for female development during pregnancy raise the risk of anorexia.

"Because the male half of an opposite-sex twin pair would also be exposed to this substance, it could account for the elevated risk in these males," said the lead researcher. Experts welcomed the insight but emphasized that it was important to also remember psychological factors like the stresses of modern life when considering the causes of eating disorders.