The impacts of smoking on patients with ulcerative colitis

ulcerative colitis
Endoscopic image of a bowel section known as the sigmoid colon afflicted with ulcerative colitis. The internal surface of the colon is blotchy and broken in places. Credit: Samir/Wikipedia

Because smokers are less likely to develop ulcerative colitis (UC), a type of inflammatory bowel disease, patients with UC may be tempted to start smoking to lessen their symptoms. Researchers found no beneficial effects of smoking, however, in a nationwide study that included 6,754 patients with UC.

In the Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics study, and never-smokers with UC had similar outcomes with respect to flares, medication use, hospitalisations, and colon surgery. Also, smoking cessation did not worsen the course of disease in patients.

"We did not find any benefits of smoking in ulcerative colitis. We hope our study will give people with the confidence to avoid smoking and thereby improve their health in general," said lead author Jonathan Blackwell, BMBS, of St. George's Healthcare NHS Trust and St. George's University, in London.

More information: Jonathan Blackwell et al, The impact of smoking and smoking cessation on disease outcomes in ulcerative colitis: a nationwide population-based study, Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics (2019). DOI: 10.1111/apt.15390

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