10 Potential Risk Factors for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The exact causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are difficult to prove, but there are some recognized risk factors which we’ve listed below based on information from health.com:

1. Geography

People who live in developed western countries are more likely to have inflammatory bowel disease. This could be down to lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, a diet of processed foods, or the effects of pollution.

However, less-developed countries, particularly in Asia, are experiencing a rise in the number of cases of IBD. This could also be due to the increase of processed foods in worldwide diets or an increase in environmental pollution.

2. Age

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are more likely to be diagnosed in teenagers and young adults, but older adults can develop it later in life. Younger patients tend to have a more aggressive form of the condition.

Younger patients are thought to have the disease due to genetic factors whereas older people are more likely to be affected by environmental factors.

3. Smoking

Smoking affects IBDs in different ways. People who smoke are more at risk of developing Crohn’s disease and smoking exacerbates the symptoms, whereas ex-smokers are more susceptible to ulcerative colitis.

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4. Appendicitis

Young people who have had their appendix removed due to appendicitis are at a lower risk of developing ulcerative colitis. The reason behind this is not fully understood but it’s thought it could be due to a change in the way the immune system functions. However, having an appendectomy after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis doesn’t cure the disease.

5. Genetics

A family history of either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis will increase your risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers have found that if a twin has Crohn’s disease, there is a 50 percent chance the other twin will also develop the condition. However, for ulcerative colitis, this figure drops to a 6 percent chance.

6. Parasites

There’s a theory that because humans are now less likely to have internal parasites (worms), they are more likely to have IBD. Some experts believe that worms can lower the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, but this is yet to be proven.

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7. Medications

Some medications can increase the risk of contracting IBD. For instance, the contraceptive pill has been linked to an increased risk of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and hormone-replacement medications for menopausal women have also been linked to Crohn’s disease.

Other medications such as Accutane, which is prescribed for acne has been linked to IBD and NSAIDS such as ibuprofen can exacerbate the symptoms of IBD.

8. Diet

There have been various studies about diet and the effects it has on the development of IBD, including a study in Japan that found eating a lot of animal protein increased the risk of Crohn’s disease. Other studies have found that diets high in fat and sugar also contribute to the risk of inflammatory bowel disease.

9. Ethnicity

Your ancestry could increase the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease, especially if you’re of Northern European or Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Studies have also found that although fewer African Americans have IBD, they are more likely to need surgery for their condition.

10. Colon bacteria

Colon bacteria is vital to help us digest food, but common food poisoning infections such as campylobacter and salmonella have been linked with a higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease.

Genetic risk factors for IBD identified in African Americans.

IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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