Six Risk Factors for Ulcerative Colitis

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Ulcerative colitis does not chose sides in the battle of the sexes.  Both men and women are at an equal risk of developing the disease.


Ulcerative colitis and other forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 10 and 19.  However, UC can be diagnosed at any age.  A smaller diagnosis peak occurs in people between ages 50 and 80.  Only 2 percent of UC diagnoses occur in children under 10.

European descent

Ulcerative colitis tends to disproportionately affect people of European descent and people with Jewish heritage.  People of African-American, Asian and South American descent all have a lower risk of ulcerative colitis.

Socioeconomic class

Some studies find that ulcerative colitis affects people of a higher socioeconomic class more than those are middle or lower class.  However, evidence on this factor is still considered inconclusive.


Smokers have lower than average rates of ulcerative colitis rates, but a higher rate of Crohn's disease.  Some patients with ulcerative colitis report developing the symptoms after they quit smoking.  For this reason, patients should ask their physician about nicotine replacement when they attempt to quit smoking.


Surprisingly, people who are left-handed have a significantly higher risk of developing both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, as well as other immune abnormalities.