Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Helping crack the anorexic code

Why do some people develop anorexia and others don't? Why do some people have anxiety disorders or depression alongside anorexia? Is there a certain 'type of person' more likely to suffer from anorexia? Is there a stroner genetic 'code' that makes some people predisposed to an eating disorder than we thought? 

There are so many questions, theories and studies trying to get to the bottom of it. But if you, like me, have suffered from anorexia nervosa the answer to some of these questions could be sat within YOU right now. 

The big challenge now is getting a little bit of our anorexic DNA out of us and into the National Institute for Health Research's 'BioResource' for Mental Health. They're building a library of biological, clinical, and neuroimaging information to help understand things like eating disorders. Sounds scientific doesn't it? Well, it is. But it's really simple to add your DNA to the library. I'm already in. 

Globally, AN25K wants to collect samples from 25,000 people who've suffered with anorexia. Here in the UK 'Charlottes Helix' is the campaign calling on just 1,000 of us to roll up our sleeves and donate four little viles of blood to help. (You can read more about why the Charlotte's Helix campaign is so special in a previous post.) But it's in memory of an inspiring eating disorders advocate, the late Charlotte Bevan. 

Since learning about the international collab a while ago, I'd decided that I wanted to be a part of it. Like I said, if potential answers, understanding and treatment is inside my blood, then science can have it. But my DNA can't figure it out alone. It needs as many sufferers as possible to fill up viles. 

Last week Ilona and I were in London for the Beat Awards and I couldn't think of a better occasion to make my donation to the Helix. It was even more special to be handing over my DNA with a fellow eating disorders campaigner and one of my best friends. 

I used to be terrified of needles and really not like blood, but let's be honest, in recovery we all get used to blood tests and being poked and prodded for tests. This is no different, but this time it was easy to get through because I just focused on the difference this blood donation was going to make. Because it will.

But this is where YOU come in if you've EVER had anorexia nervosa. 

So far the Helix has collected fewer than 200 DNA samples and the target is 1000, but I believe we can supersede this if we rally round to stock up the library. It's really simple to do and you don't have to be in London or make the trip. You can do it via your local GP, EDU or nurse and post it back. 

However you do it, don't let your DNA feel left out of this library. Like I said, it's YOUR DNA that could hold the answer to preventing, understanding and treating anorexia. And there's no science needed from us, phew. 

- Contact the Bio Resource Team at NIHR directly HERE 
- Follow them on Twitter @bio_resource and @HelixAN25 

This video explains what will happen How to Join the BR

If you haven't suffered from anorexia, but would like to help DONATE HERE

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