What are the sexual, ethnic, and racial differences in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) incidence?

Updated: Dec 11, 2019
  • Author: Jenifer K Lehrer, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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American and European cultures demonstrate similar frequencies of irritable bowel syndrome across racial and ethnic lines. However, within the United States, survey questionnaires indicate a lower prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome in Hispanics in Texas and Asians in California. Populations of Asia and Africa may have a lower prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome. The role of different cultural influences and varying health care–seeking behaviors is unclear.

Adolescent and young adult women are most commonly affected. [9] In Western countries, women are 2-3 times more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome than men, although males represent 70%-80% of patients with irritable bowel syndrome in the Indian subcontinent. Women seek health care more often, but the irritable bowel syndrome–specific influence of this occurrence remains unknown. Other factors, such as a probably greater incidence of abuse in women, may confound interpretation of this statistic.

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