Patients Don't Realize Smoking Worsens Bowel Disease

While research has shown that smoking can increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and worsen symptoms, a new study suggests that most patients aren't aware of this connection.

Researchers from the University of Montreal Hospital Center asked 182 people with Crohn’s disease and 77 people with ulcerative colitis (UC) about their diagnosis, symptoms, smoking history, and the risk of tobacco use in IBD patients. Participants were mostly white women in their 40s.

Fewer than half of Crohn’s patients and about 10 percent of UC patients understood the risks and relationship between smoking and IBD. This was surprising to the researchers because 20 percent of the participants smoked and 40 percent used to smoke. People who did understand the complications said they planned on quitting, compared to people who did not know about the potential complications of smoking.

One limitation of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, was its dependence on participants being able to recall their smoking habits.

Researchers strongly encouraged all IBD patients to quit smoking and talk to their doctors about the risks.

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