Document Detail

Symptom and personality profiles of young adults from a college student population with self-reported illness from foods and chemicals.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  8294725     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Despite much debate over a presumptively somatic vs psychological etiology of nonatopic food and chemical sensitivities, little systematic research has addressed the issues. The present study investigated self-reported illness from several common foods (wheat, dairy, eggs) and chemicals (pesticide, car exhaust, paint, perfume, new carpet), symptom patterns, and psychological profiles of a sample of young adult college students (n = 490, age 19.4 +/- 2.4, 52% female/48% male). Subjects were divided into 4 groups on the basis of sample medians for frequency of illness from the foods (FI) and chemicals (CI); high FI with high CI (FI/CI), high FI alone, high CI alone, and NOILL (low FI and CI). FI was associated with more defensiveness (denial of negativity) while CI was linked with more shyness (avoidance of novelty). Women outnumbered men in all groups (FI/CI: 61%; FI: 80% CI: 55%) except the NOILL (40% women). Nevertheless, the FI/CI, FI, and/or CI groups still had significantly higher total symptom scores as well as more indigestion, headache, and memory trouble than did the NOILL group, even after depression, anxiety, shyness, defensiveness, and gender were covaried. The illness groups reported significantly more limitation of foods that mobilize endogenous opioids or generate exogenous opioids (sweets, fats, bread) as well as more illness from opiate drugs, small amounts of beverage alcohol, and late meals. Nasal symptoms from pollens or animals were more common in the FI/CI (42%) and CI (42%) than in FI (26%) or NOILL (28%) groups. Premenstrual tension syndrome and irritable bowel were also more common in the FI/CI group. The findings indicate that young adults outside the clinical setting who are relatively higher in FI and/or CI have distinctive symptom and psychological patterns. Covariate analyses suggest that important symptoms in FI and CI individuals such as indigestion, headache, and memory problems may occur in addition to rather than as simply part of emotional distress. The data are consistent with a previously hypothesized role of olfactory-limbic and hypothalamic pathways and with a time-dependent sensitization model for illness from foods and chemicals.
I R Bell; G E Schwartz; J M Peterson; D Amend
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of the American College of Nutrition     Volume:  12     ISSN:  0731-5724     ISO Abbreviation:  J Am Coll Nutr     Publication Date:  1993 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1994-02-28     Completed Date:  1994-02-28     Revised Date:  2008-06-23    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8215879     Medline TA:  J Am Coll Nutr     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  693-702     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona, Tucson 85724.
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MeSH Terms
Defense Mechanisms
Drug Hypersensitivity / psychology*
Food Hypersensitivity / psychology*
Sex Characteristics

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