An ongoing, six-year study of 538 sets of twins in Michigan indicates that females who were in the womb with male twins have lower risk for eating disorder symptoms than females who were in the womb with female twins. Previous animal research has shown that females in the womb with males are exposed to higher levels of testosterone.
The new findings – from a team of MSU psychology researchers – are published in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, out today.
“From these findings, it appears that testosterone exposure could have a protective effect against the development of disordered eating,” said project researcher Kelly Klump, MSU associate professor of psychology and president of the Academy for Eating Disorders.
According to the academy, 10 percent or more of late adolescent and adult women report symptoms of eating disorders at any given time.
Klump said researchers have known for years that women are more affected by eating disorders than men and that “some of that is due to social influences such as beauty ideals around thinness for women that we don’t have for men.”
But the question of whether biological influences also play a role has been an understudied area, she said. The fast-growing MSU Twin Registry, which includes more than 1,200 sets of twins ages 6 to 30, provided a substantial research population, said Klump, who runs the registry with Alexandra Burt, assistant professor of psychology.
Kristen Culbert, lead researcher on the project and a doctoral student in clinical psychology, said while societal differences have typically been used to explain why women are more affected by eating disorders, the new research is “significant in suggesting a biological explanation.”
Being raised with a brother did not account for the effects, Culbert added. That’s because researchers also looked at females who were not twins but grew up with a brother and found that those females were at higher risk for eating disorder symptoms than females who shared a womb with and were raised with a male.
Klump said the findings could ultimately help improve the treatment of eating disorders.
“More and more animal researchers are discovering how testosterone affects brain development,” she said. “So if we know there are protective factors against eating disorders, we can potentially determine which areas of the brain might be particularly sensitive to prenatal testosterone exposure and use that information to identify new biological treatments.”
Also on the research team were Burt and Marc Breedlove, Barnett Rosenberg professor of neuroscience.
For more information on eating disorders, visit the AED Web site, www.aedweb.org/.
Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.
Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences