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The prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the community has been reported in numerous cross-sectional surveys. However, little is known about the incidence and predictive factors for the clinical diagnosis of IBS.We examined the association of socioeconomic, anthropometric, and occupational factors with the incidence of IBS in a cohort of 440,822 young Israeli adults aged 18 to 39 who served in active military service during the years 2005 to 2011.During the follow-up of 1,925,003 person-years, IBS was diagnosed de novo in 976 patients, giving an incidence rate of 221:100,000 (0.2%) person-years for the diagnosis of IBS. On multivariable Cox analysis, higher socioeconomic status [hazard ratio (HR) 1.629; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.328-1.999; P<0.0001], Israeli birth (HR 1.362; 95% CI, 1.084-1.712; P=0.008), Jewish ethnicity (HR 2.089; 95% CI, 1.344-3.248; P=0.001), education ≥than 11 years (HR 1.674; 95% CI, 1.019-2.751; P=0.042), and a noncombat military position (HR 1.196; 95% CI, 1.024-1.397; P=0.024) were found to be risk factors for the diagnosis or for the worsening of IBS. Overweight (HR 0.744; 95% CI, 0.589-0.941; P=0.014), obesity (HR 0.698; 95% CI, 0.510-0.95; P=0.025), living in a rural settlement (HR 0.705; 95% CI, 0.561-0.886; P=0.003), and Middle Eastern (HR 0.739; 95% CI, 0.617-0.884; P=0.001,) or North African and Ethiopian origin (HR 0.702; 95% CI, 0.585-0.842; P<0.001) were found to be protective for the diagnosis or the worsening of IBS.This study provides novel data on the socioeconomic, anthropometric, and occupational factors predictive for IBS development. The predictive factors for IBS diagnosis may point to the fact that stress had a lower impact on IBS incidence in our study cohort.