If you smoke and suffer from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, you probably wonder if this habit affects your disease.
There are many studies that have shown that smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have Crohn’s disease. Research suggests that smoking increases the severity of the disease. However, the likelihood of developing ulcerative colitis is lower according to research.
This article explains the relationship between ulcerative colitis and smoking as well as its risks. Learn more about the correlations in the body and which measures help to alleviate the symptoms.
How does smoking affect ulcerative colitis?
In summary, the literature on smoking and ulcerative colitis does not agree at 100%.
Some studies show that the disease is less common among smokers than among non-smokers. These scientists point out in their research that some people developed ulcerative colitis after quitting smoking.
However, this doesn’t mean that it is better to continue smoking without hesitation.
It is important to consider the harmful effects of smoking. Smoking is a known cause of at least 13 types of cancer, including bowel, lung, stomach and ovaries. Smoking is also a known cause of cardiovascular problems – smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who have never smoked.
In general, physicians believe that the risks of smoking far outweigh all possible benefits associated with colitis ulcerosa. Smoking severely restricts all areas of human health.
How can smoking have a protective effect against ulcerative colitis?
Researchers do not understand exactly why smoking may have a protective effect against CU.
One of the reasons might be that the effects of many chemicals in cigarettes have not yet been fully researched. The researchers suspect that it is nicotine that has a mitigating effect in this case.
The fact is that people with ulcerative colitis – compared to healthy people – have a thinner layer of mucus in the colon and rectum.
Nicotine can increase the production of this mucus. Another effect could be the suppression of the immune system, which in turn prevents inflammation in the colon.
Another theory is that nitric oxide, which is released by nicotine, can reduce muscle activity in the colon and thus reduce the need to go to the toilet urgently.
So do I have to quit smoking?
It can be tempting to continue or even start smoking to counteract the symptoms of CU. However, the research results are mixed. We know that smoking increases the risk of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, other cancers or heart disease and is not recommended by health professionals, including people with CU.
In fact, there are many treatments available to counteract CU. We don’t have to tell you that smoking is the wrong way.
Nicotine patches and chewing gum
People have found that the use of nicotine replacement therapies, such as the use of nicotine patches or chewing gum, can be helpful in treating the disease. However, the results of the research studies are not clear. It may also be that the other elements of cigarette smoke may contribute.
The use of nicotine patches in people with mild or moderately active CU has been shown to be more effective than a placebo (an empty patch without nicotine).
It is not yet known whether nicotine as a therapy is more effective in former smokers than in people who have never smoked.
Although nicotine replacement therapies are much safer than smoking, you should still ask your doctor for his opinion. Nicotine is highly addictive – and can also have other effects, such as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. In several studies, people who have tried nicotine therapy for CU have suffered from side effects such as dermatitis, nausea, headaches or sleep disorders.
E-cigarettes and ulcerative colitis
So far, there has been no research on the effect of electronic cigarette consumption on ulcerative colitis. Some studies report that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. It is and remains important to critically question research results. Thus the investigation period for e-cigarettes is still too short in order to be able to draw reliable long-term conclusions.
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