Smoking Worsens Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Many patients haven’t gotten the message, a new study suggests.

Out of 239 patients with two common types of IBD – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis only half were aware of the smoking risks associated with these conditions.

“The take-home message for patients with IBD is that smoking can affect their disease,” lead study author Dr. Stephanie Ducharme-Benard of the University of Montreal Hospital Center said by email.

Inflammatory bowel diseases involve chronic or recurring inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the most common forms. People with Crohn’s have inflammation throughout the entire digestive tract, while in ulcerative colitis, only the large intestine is inflamed.

Previous research has linked smoking to an increased risk of Crohn’s disease and its complications but has also suggested that smokers are at lower risk for ulcerative colitis, Ducharme-Benard and colleagues note in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

For the current study, researchers questioned 182 people with Crohn’s and 77 people with ulcerative colitis about their diagnosis, symptoms, smoking history, and understanding of how tobacco use might relate to development of their disease or to complications or recurrences.

Most patients in the study were white and female, and they were typically in their 40s.

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