According to a research study conducted at the Price Institute of Surgical Research, in Louisville, Kentucky, and published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, U.S. states that report the highest rates of Crohn’s disease (CD) also have high smoking rates.
For the study, the researchers incorporated a linear regression analysis of national data. After analyzing all the relevant data, the researchers concluded that there is a correlation between regionally high rates of smoking and the number of Crohn’s disease hospital discharges for that region. Before the study, the investigators had a theory, which was based on an established fact that compared to non-smoking CD patients, smoker CD patients have a 2.5-fold increased risk of surgical recurrence and twice the probability of disease relapse. The study proved that their theory was well founded.
U.S. states with high hospital discharges for Crohn’s disease: For the first part of the study, the researchers designed a population-based study and analyzed the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) in order to have access to the discharge data on Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and lung cancer. The HCUP collects and stores patient discharge information from 30 U.S. states.
U.S. states with high smoker rates: For the next part of the study — finding the estimated smoking prevalence rates among adult residents in the same 30 states— the researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Missouri are the states with the highest smoking rates, in which almost 25 percent of the adult population smokes. On the other hand New Jersey, Maryland, Utah, California, and Arizona, had the lowest percentage of smokers.
Correlation between high smoker U.S. states and high Crohn’s disease U.S. states: The results showed that while there was no indication of a relation between smoking and hospital discharges for ulcerative colitis, there was a definite correlation between smoking and hospital discharges for Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease patients who smoke may experience flare-up of symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea more frequently, than patients who do not smoke. They also face a higher risk of repeat surgeries and need more medication for their condition, than their nonsmoking counterparts. While researchers are not exactly sure how smoking in Crohn’s aggravates the symptoms of the disease, they suspect that cigarette smoke damages protective mucous membranes in the digestive system, thereby increasing the risk for inflammation.
There are some studies out of England that suggest that smoking can worsen Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases by restricting blood flow. They believe that by blocking blood flow, one is also blocking the action of substances that have the potential to reduce inflammation. Also, there is enough evidence to support the fact that smoking can make many medications less effective. Which could be the reason why certain anti-inflammatory drugs lose their potency in smokers with Crohn’s.
The negative health effects of smoking include increased risk for lung and other cancers, heart disease, and ulcers, along with a host of other conditions. This is why one of the first things most doctors suggest to their Crohn’s disease patients is to stop smoking if they do. Kicking the habit will do the patients a great deal of good when it comes to lessening the severity of the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, and also to prevent other health problems. If you smoke and have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, you first step is to create a smoking cessation strategy. Your next step is to follow the strategy.
While there are plenty of reasons for you to stop smoking, winning the war against Crohn’s disease is an excellent motivation driver. After all, a recent study found that smokers with Crohn’s are more likely to experience severe symptoms than those who don’t light up.
The team is very excited by the results of the study as it proves their assumption about the correlation between Crohn’s disease and smoking was correct. However, the researchers are aware that more research is needed to solidify the suspected link between smoking and the development of Crohn’s disease.