People with Inflammatory bowel disease are 1.5 times as likely to have Asthma as individuals in the general population, a large new study shows.
Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, collectively designated Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, were also more likely to have arthritis, bronchitis, or psoriasis than people without IBD, the researchers report in the medical journal Gastroenterology.
While other studies have linked chronic inflammatory diseases to IBD, Dr. Charles N. Bernstein of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and his team note, this study is the first to identify an association with Asthma.
The researchers compared 8072 patients with IBD to a “control” group of individuals matched by age, sex and geography.
The team found patients with ulcerative colitis were 1.5 to 1.7 times more likely to have Asthma than the general population, while Crohn’s disease patients had a 1.3 to 1.4 times greater risk.
Among Crohn’s Disease patients, airway disease was the most common chronic inflammatory condition identified, and it was the second most common seen in ulcerative colitis patients.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. In Crohn’s disease, these rogue immune cells attack the gastrointestinal system. The cause is unknown, but genetic factors seem to play a role.
Respiratory conditions are an “underappreciated” manifestation of disease in people with IBD, and the long-term consequences of leaving such problems untreated may be “substantial,” Dr. Edward V. Loftus, Jr. of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota notes in an editorial accompanying the study.
“Respiratory complaints in patients with IBD should be taken seriously, and probably should be investigated with pulmonary function testing at the very least,” he writes.
SOURCE: Gastroenterology, September 2005.
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD