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Smoking and Ulcerative Colitis: What’s the Link?

Signs and Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis may vary, depending on the affected area and severity of inflammation. Common signs include rectal pain, abdominal cramps, rectal bleeding, diarrhea with pus or blood, tiredness, weight loss, inability or urgency to defecate, or fever. These symptoms tend to develop over time instead of suddenly. Children with ulcerative colitis may fail to grow properly. In most cases, symptoms tend to be mild or moderate. The course can vary and some people may have remissions, which are long periods without any symptoms. [3]

The Link between Smoking and Ulcerative Colitis

Studies have shown that non-smokers are more likely to have ulcerative colitis than current smokers. Also, lighter smokers tend to be at a higher risk than heavier smokers. And former smokers may develop symptoms later than those who have never smoked. In addition, current smokers with ulcerative colitis are likely to experience milder symptoms than non-smokers or former smokers. Scientists believe that this would be due to the fact that nicotine may prevent the body from producing cells that cause inflammation in the digestive tract. This action would then keep the immune system from attacking healthy cells. [4]