Home Medizin Erhöht Ihr Lebensstil Ihr Risiko für Reizdarmsyndrom?

Erhöht Ihr Lebensstil Ihr Risiko für Reizdarmsyndrom?

von NFI Redaktion

The researchers of a recent study published in the Gut Journal have examined the association between a healthy lifestyle and the frequency of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Studie: Zusammenhang zwischen gesundem Lebensstil und Reizdarmsyndrom: eine große bevölkerungsbasierte prospektive Kohortenstudie.  Bildquelle: Meeko Media/Shutterstock.comStudie: Zusammenhang zwischen gesundem Lebensstil und Reizdarmsyndrom: eine große bevölkerungsbasierte prospektive Kohortenstudie. Bildquelle: Meeko Media/Shutterstock.com


IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by recurring abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements. Its disease management brings significant economic burdens. While there is no recognized primary prevention, there are five modifiable lifestyle variables that can influence the risk of IBS.

Current recommendations do not endorse lifestyle-changing programs as primary prevention strategies. Current therapies aim to alleviate symptoms but are ineffective or come with side effects.

IBS patients often report accompanying mental health disorders, increased suicidal thoughts, and decreased quality of life. General practitioners should vigorously offer interventions to change health habits during their routine consultations.

About the Study

In this population-based prospective cohort study, the researchers examined whether healthy lifestyle habits, such as optimal sleep, non-smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, high physical activity, and high dietary quality, are associated with IBS.

Between 2006 and 2010, the team recruited 64,268 participants from the United Kingdom Biobank (UKBB) aged 37 to 73 years old without a previous IBS diagnosis, with follow-ups until 2022.

The primary study exposures included five healthy habits – optimal sleep, never smoking, high-quality nutrition, moderate alcohol consumption, and high physical activity. They assessed all lifestyle behaviors using self-reported structured questionnaires.

The primary outcome measure was IBS incidence, defined using the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes.

Participants completed touchscreen questionnaires and verbal interviews about demographics, lifestyle, and health. They also underwent physical examinations and provided samples.

The team included individuals from the entire cohort who had filled out two or more 24-hour dietary recall questionnaires (126,841 individuals, including alcohol consumption assessments).

They excluded individuals with documented unrealistic calorie intake (less than 800 kcal or over 5,000 kcal per day for men, and less than 500 kcal or over 4,000 kcal per day for women), those with missing information on healthy lifestyle habits, and those with IBS diagnoses at study onset.

The team followed the participants until February 1, 2022. They performed Cox proportional hazard modeling to determine the hazard ratios (HRs) for the association between healthy habits and the incidence of IBS.

The study covariates included age, Body Mass Index (BMI), gender, geographical locations, employment status, marital status, anxiety, depression, headaches, joint and back pain, asthma, osteoporosis, endometriosis, gastrointestinal infections, family history of IBS, and ectopic pregnancies.

The team conducted sensitivity analyses to examine the effects of the five lifestyle behaviors on individuals with IBS.

They excluded those diagnosed based on self-documentation, defined healthy alcohol consumption behavior differently, and used less stringent definitions for physical activity. They considered those moderately to intensively physically active to be healthy participants and conducted separate analyses for each lifestyle behavior, with model adjustments for other behaviors.


Over a mean period of 13 years, the team recorded 961 (two percent) newly occurring cases of IBS. Compared to individuals not practicing healthy lifestyle habits, those practicing three, four, or five healthy habits were found to be younger, female, married, with a lower BMI, employed or self-employed, and less likely to have a family history of IBS.

They were also less likely to be anxious or depressed or suffer from headaches, joint pain, back pain, gastrointestinal disorders, and asthma.

Of 64,268 individuals (average age 56 years), 55% (n=35,342) were female, 12% (n=7,604) did not practice healthy habits, 32% (n=20,662) practiced one healthy habit, 34% (n= 21,901) practiced two habits, and 22% (n=14,101) practiced three to five habits at the beginning of the study.

The multivariable adjusted HRs for the association of one, two, three, or five behaviors with IBS were 0.8, 0.6, and 0.6, respectively.

Non-smoking (0.9), optimal sleep (0.7), and high physical activity (0.8) showed significant and independent inverse correlations with the risk of IBS.

The team did not observe statistically significant interactions between the associations and gender, age, employment status, geographical locations, gastrointestinal infections, endometriosis, family history of IBS, or lifestyle behaviors.

Compared to unhealthy lifestyles, the adjusted hazard ratios associated with practicing one, two, and three to five healthy habits were 0.8, 0.6, and 0.6, respectively. Sensitivity analyses yielded similar results.


Overall, the study’s findings suggest that the prevalence of IBS could be minimized by choosing a healthy lifestyle, such as not smoking, getting enough sleep, regularly exercising, eating a balanced diet, and consuming alcohol in moderation.

The study’s results indicate that lifestyle changes could be an effective primary strategy for IBS prevention. However, the study uncovered potential associations that require further investigation. Firstly, the proportion of women improved through various healthy activities, possibly for health reasons such as relieving menopausal symptoms and reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Secondly, initial sadness decreased with increasing frequency of healthy activities, demonstrating a reverse relationship between depressive symptoms and lifestyle choices.

Journal reference:

  • Ho FF, Sun H, Zheng H, et al. (2024) Association between healthy lifestyle and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a large population-based prospective cohort study, Gut, doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2023-331254.

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