Smokers with Crohn's 'more likely to suffer relapse after surgery'

05 September 2016 09:09

A new study confirms smoking is strongly linked to a recurrence in the bowel condition.

A new study confirms smoking is strongly linked to a recurrence in the bowel condition.

Crohn's disease sufferers who smoke should quit the habit if they want to avoid a relapse after surgery, research shows.

A new study confirms smoking is strongly linked to a recurrence in the bowel condition.

Drugs used after surgery less effective for smokers

Crohn's occurs when the immune system attacks the lining of the gut and bowel, causing severe inflammation.

Patients are initially treated with a class of drugs called thiopurines, which dampen the immune system, and more than half require surgery to remove the affected section of their bowel.

A team at Edinburgh University finds the risk of relapse is higher for smokers.

As part of the study researchers assess whether thiopurines are effective at preventing the return of the condition after surgery.

Only three of 29 smokers treated with the therapy experienced a relapse within three years compared with 12 of 26 who received the dummy drug.

The rate of relapse among non-smokers was much lower and was unaffected by treatment with the medicine.

More research into lifestyle changes needed

Professor Jack Satsangi, from Edinburgh University's Centre of Genomics and Experimental Medicine, says the study confirms the most important thing somebody with Crohn's disease can do for their health is not smoke.

He said more needs to be done to identify lifestyle changes that could prevent the recurrence of Crohn's disease

"There is an unmet need to identify therapies or lifestyle changes that prevent Crohn's disease recurrence after surgery to avoid patients having to undergo multiple operations," he said.

The professor says people who are unable to quit smoking are at "high risk of relapse" after surgery and may begin treatment with thiopurines immediately after their operation.

"For non-smokers, however, we found that thiopurines offer little benefit at preventing relapse after surgery," he added.

He said it is better to delay giving thiopurines to patients who smoke.

Professor Satsangi said: "For these patients, close monitoring in the first year is the best course of action rather than immediate drug therapy."

The study is published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal.

Holidays with Crohn's disease

Going away on a foreign holiday with Crohn's disease need not be as stressful as many may think if trusted Crohn's disease travel insurance is taken out.

It will cover the policy holder if they have a flare up that requires hospital treatment or additional drugs.

Policies cover the usual travel insurance matters such as delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage, missing travel documents and stolen possessions.

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