Are You A Smoker?
People with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis should be aware that smoking can significantly worsen their disease. In a recent study, only half of the IBD patients questioned were aware of this fact.
Inflammatory bowel diseases involve inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Smoking can cause symptoms such as stomach pain and diarrhea to be more severe and occur more frequently. “People think of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as ‘bowel only’ problems and cigarette smoking as causing ‘lung problems’ and look at them separately,” said Dr. Miguel Regueiro, who leads the IBD clinical program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Researchers believe that cigarette smoke damages the protective mucous membranes in the digestive system, which leads to inflammation. Smoking can also make anti-inflammatory medications less effective and can restrict blood flow. Dr. Gilaad Kaplan, a gastroenterology researcher at the University of Calgary in Alberta says, “The most important step that an individual can take to prevent IBD is not to smoke in the first place. Among smokers who are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, quitting smoking is an action that can improve their health.”