Crohn’s disease is spreading among younger people, and the number of cases has tripled in the past 10 years in England and Wales, according to data from the UK-based Health and Social Care Information Centre. Doctors believe that the use of antibiotics and the consumption of fattier food may be triggering the rise of the disease incidence in young people.
Nutritional habits are partially responsible for digestive problems, and people who favor junk food in their diets are more susceptible to the occurrence of the disease, as well as people who take non-prescribed and high doses of antibiotics, according to Dr. Sally Mitton, a gastroenterologist at London’s St. George’s Hospital. Although the reasons are still not entirely understood, physicians suspect that junk food increases the development of the disease in people who are genetically likely to have it during their lives.
“We know that there are many genes that predispose someone to get Crohn’s disease,” Dr. Sally Mitton explained in an interview to Declan Harvey and Natalie Wyatt, from BBC News. “But we also know that lifestyle factors like eating a lot of junk food or taking many courses of antibiotics may make it more likely to happen.”
Between the ages of 16 and 29 years old, 19,405 people were admitted to English hospitals in 2012 and 2013, while ten years earlier, the number was just 4,937. Dr. Milton also explained that medical centers specialized in Crohn’s disease are experiencing this increase in the number of patients not only among youngsters, but in other age groups as well.
Despite the fact that doctors try to encourage and support patients to live in their own homes, more people are spending time in hospitals due to the disease. “We try to keep patients fit enough so they can stay at home but because of the increased overall number being diagnosed, the actual number needing to be admitted [to hospital] has gone up,” she said.
Crohn’s disease has no cure thus far, and although it can be diagnosed at any age, the disease tends to appear in early ages. Many factors may be responsible for the disease, which include genetics, problems with the immune system, previous infections, environmental factors, and even smoking.