Involvement of oral contraceptive side effects and genes in body dissatisfaction and eating dysfunction
Bird, Jessica L.
Master of Arts
SubjectOral contraceptives (Side effects)
Eating disorders in women
Oral contraceptives (Psychological aspects)
Eating disorder symptomology and hormones
Genetics and eating disorder symptoms
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Previous research has indicated that body dissatisfaction and eating dysfunction fluctuate with hormone levels (Lester, Keel & Lipson, 2003). However, the im pact of oral contraceptives (OCs) on these phenomena has not yet been assessed. Research has also indicated a genetic component to eating disorders and body image, and certain genes have been implicated, although none consistently (Gorwood, Kipman & Foulon, 2003). This study examined the link between oral contraceptive side effects and both body dissatisfaction and eating dysfunction, and the link between various hormonal genes and these constructs. Two-hundred-seventy-nine female participants completed a screening questionnaire which contained questions on OC use and three subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory-2. O f these participants, 127 women provided a sample of DNA to be analyzed. After controlling for BMI and lifetime history of depression, number of oral contraceptive mood and physical side effects significantly predicted both body dissatisfaction and eating dysfunction. Furthermore, mood side effects were a unique predictor of both criterion variables. Examination of the TA repeat on the estrogen receptor alpha gene revealed a trend such that participants homozygous for long alleles had higher mean eating dysfunction when compared to those homozygous for short alleles. A significant association was found between the estrogen receptor beta genotype and body mass index (BMI). Women with short/long heterozygous alleles on the CA repeat had a significantly higher BMI when compared to those with homozygous short alleles. The number of repeats on the serotonin transporter gene and the progesterone receptor gene were not related to eating disorder symptoms. These findings provide additional support for a role of estrogen and the estrogen receptor genes in eating disorders symptoms and BMI.