Nancy Norton speaks out about research needs for women's health

For Immediate Release

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Bethesda, MD (November 14, 1997) - Nancy J. Norton, president and founder of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), has been selected to join the elite panel of speakers at a public hearing and workshop on women's health issues November 17-19, 1997 in Bethesda Maryland.

The hearing and workshop is sponsored by the Office of Research and Women's Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Among the objectives of this event is to recommend the agenda for research on women's health for the 21st Century.

Ms. Norton is an internationally recognized authority on functional gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, diarrhea, constipation, pelvic floor pain, anorectal pain, abdominal bloating or pain, esophageal disorders, gastroduodenal disorders and biliary disorders. Since founding the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in 1991, Ms. Norton has attended numerous conferences and twice has given expert testimony before Congressional and US Senate committees. She appeared on CBS "This Morning," in a segment on irritable bowel syndrome, to share her expertise. In addition, she serves as chairperson of the Digestive Disease National Coalition, a group of voluntary health organizations working to educate Congress.

Headquartered in Milwaukee, IFFGD offers support and educational services to affected people, their families and the general public.

Its quarterly newsletter, "Participate" is circulated in 63 countries with additional publications in five languages.

"These disorders are all about lost potential," says Ms. Norton. "There are 35 million people in the US alone with irritable bowel syndrome. People become very anxious about leaving their houses. They're afraid to switch jobs, go to a restaurant or have almost any type of social life because they're worried they won't know where the bathroom is."

The statistics are stunning:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects an estimated 1 in 5 American adults, with a mean age of onset of about 29 years of age.

People with IBS miss an average of 13.4 working days per year (approximately three times the average of non-affected adults). It has been called a multi-billion dollar problem.

Seventy-five percent of IBS sufferers are women.

The Bethesda conference is known formally as "Beyond Hunt Valley; Research on Women's Health for the 21st Century." Its title makes reference to a 1991 meeting at Hunt Valley, Maryland, to assess the state of science and to develop a research agenda in women's health for the 1990s. Subsequent regional conferences have been held in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In addition to digestive diseases, other women's health concerns to be addressed at the upcoming conference include bone and musculoskeletal disorders, immunity and autoimmune diseases and reproductive issues.