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Irritable bowel may be genetically linked to headaches

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Staff writer ▼ | February 26, 2016
Genetic links may exist between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and migraine and tension-type headaches, researchers report.
Tension-type headache
New research   Two common conditions connected with genes
"Since headache and irritable bowel syndrome are such common conditions, and causes for both are unknown, discovering a possible link that could shed light on shared genetics of the conditions is encouraging," study author Dr. Derya Uluduz said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

The findings might help point to new treatments for all of the disorders, suggested Uluduz, of Istanbul University in Turkey, and colleagues.

The study included 107 people with migraine, 53 with tension-type headache, 107 with IBS and 53 without any of the conditions.

People with migraine were about twice as likely as those with tension headache to also have IBS -- 54 percent versus 28 percent, respectively. Of the people with IBS, 38 also had migraine and 24 also had tension headache, the investigators found.

The researchers then focused on genetics, in particular, the serotonin transporter gene and the serotonin receptor 2A gene. The study authors found that people with IBS, migraine or tension headache had at least one gene that differed from those of people without any of the disorders.

The finding are scheduled for presentation in April at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting, in Vancouver, Canada. The data and conclusions should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.