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Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder which will drive the sufferer to not eat, consume an insufficient amount of food, attempt liquid fasts, or to severely restrict calorie intake for weeks or months at a time. Researchers suggest that one out of every one hundred female adolescents suffer from anorexia nervosa, while only 10% of all those with eating disorders are male (though the number of males with the condition is increasing). Young women in their teens and twenties tend to be the demographic for the disease, though cases in individuals as young as six and individuals as old as their late seventies have been reported.

Many sufferers become consumed by their eating disorders and believe it to be a form of self-expression, though it is widely regarded to be a mental disorder equally as serious as severe depression and also extremely life threatening. Some who suffer from this disease become so undernourished that they literally starve themselves to death.

The health implications of the disease are naturally very serious. First and foremost, the simple act of not consuming food means that the sufferer is not consuming any key nutrients. The body, in its desperation to nourish itself, will consume fat stores as well as muscle tissue in attempt to survive.

The digestive tract is also severely affected. The function of the digestive tract may become so disrupted that the body cannot remember how to process food, especially in large amounts. This means that a chronic anorexic may not only not want to eat, but can become violently ill (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, ulcers, bleeding) from doing so. When the body no longer consumes food, the intestines may actually stop producing the enzymes that digest food, and the cilia (the hairlike formations in the intestine that absorb nutrients) may die off. In addition to all of this, the body may become so badly starved that its other functions become jeopardized. The immune system may become extremely compromised, women may experience amenorrhea (cease having menstrual periods) because the body cannot handle the strain, the person may slow mentally (reaction times dropping), and the metabolism drops rapidly so that the sufferer has little or no energy (this also means that when the anorexic attempts to recover, he or she may very likely gain weight extremely rapidly). Women who suffer from this disease often do not consume anywhere near a sufficient amount of calcium which can result in osteoporosis setting in at an extremely early age. The Drop in weight can also cause the menstrual cycle to stop completely.

In the context of body modification, this means that the sufferer may not be well suited to healing. The immune system may be so greatly compromised that the body is totally unable to handle the strain of a Piercing or Tattoo and the wounds will go unhealed and could infect very easily. Naturally, rituals like pulling and suspension could be extremely dangerous because of the possibly completely weakened state of the body. Those suffering from this disease should try to be extremely aware of their bodies' weakened state and seriously consider whether or not their immune systems can handle tattoos, piercings, or Ritual practices before they proceed with any plans to modify themselves.

Anyone suffering from this disease should, naturally, seek help at some point to prevent doing irreversible damage.

See Also