Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

Font Size

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Runs in Family

Nature or Nurture? IBS Patients Have More IBS Relatives
WebMD Health News

Dec. 18, 2003 -- Irritable bowel syndrome runs in families, a telephone survey indicates.

Irritable bowel syndrome isn't a single disease. It's a collection of symptoms that include abdominal pain or discomfort and constipation and/or diarrhea -- as many as one in five Americans reports some of these symptoms. They can significantly affect a person's quality of life.

Where does it come from? A team of Mayo Clinic researchers is looking at the possibility of a genetic link. In earlier work, they found that a person who reports having a family member with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms is more than twice as likely as other people to experience similar symptoms.

The researchers polled family members of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. They also polled the families of the patients' symptom-free spouses. The result: While 17% of patients' had relatives with irritable bowel syndrome, only 7% of the spouses had such a relative.

"The next challenge is determining nature versus nurture," study co-researcher G. Richard Locke, MD, says in a news release. "Is this due to a gene or genes, or is it due to a shared environmental factor? Our group is actively investigating these issues."

The findings appear in the December issue of Gut.

Two studies have shown that the identical twins of irritable bowel syndrome patients are more likely to have the condition than fraternal twins of patients. But other twin studies show evidence that what individuals learn from their environments has at least as much impact on irritable bowel syndrome as heredity.

Today on WebMD

filling glass of water from faucet
Prevention strategies to try.
stomach ache
From symptoms to treatments.
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
worried mature woman
Are they related?
IBS Trigger Foods
Supplements for IBS What Works
IBS Symptoms Quiz
digestive health
gluten free diet
digestive myths
what causes diarrhea
man with abdominal pain

WebMD Special Sections