Abdominal pain is one of the key symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Studies have indicated an increase in the incidence of IBS in Asia. However, yet the pathophysiology of this disease remains unknown. Women are more likely to develop the condition than men, especially the constipation-predominant type. Essential fatty acid (EFA) malnutrition is one of several theories discussing the mechanism of IBS. The authors hypothesized that significant EFA deficiency may cause abdominal pain in patients with IBS. However, because patterns in the oral intake of EFAs differ between cultures, the authors narrowed this study to examine the nutritional status of Asian female patients with IBS The authors investigated Asian female patients with IBS and compared them with a group of healthy controls. Thirty patients with IBS and 39 healthy individuals were included in this study. The participants' age, height, weight, and waist size were recorded. The 24-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale was documented. Both erythrocyte and plasma fatty acid content were analyzed through gas-liquid chromatography. The authors found that patients with IBS exhibited significantly higher scores for depression, higher proportions of plasma saturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids, and lower proportions of docosahexaenoic acid and total omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in plasma are associated with IBS in Asian female patients. Further study is indicated to confirm the causality of this association.
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