Tobacco and IBD: relevance in the understanding of disease mechanisms and clinical practice

Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 Jun;18(3):481-96. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2003.12.003.


Current smoking protects against ulcerative colitis and, after onset of the disease, improves its course, decreasing the need for colectomy. However, smoking increases the risk of developing Crohn's disease and worsens its course, increasing the need for steroids, immunosuppressants and reoperations. Smoking cessation aggravates ulcerative colitis and improves Crohn's disease. The effects of smoking are the sum of contradictory effects of various substances, including nicotine and carbon monoxide, and are modulated by gender, genetic background, disease location and activity, cigarette dose and nicotine concentration. Smokers with ulcerative colitis should not be discouraged from stopping smoking but encouraged to stop, to reduce their risk of cardiopulmonary tobacco-related diseases. In Crohn's disease, smoking cessation has become a major therapeutic goal, particularly in young women and in patients with ileal involvement. A large amount of supportive information, use of nicotine-replacement therapies and antidepressants, and individual counselling might aid the patient in quitting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colitis, Ulcerative / etiology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / physiopathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy
  • Crohn Disease / etiology*
  • Crohn Disease / physiopathology
  • Crohn Disease / therapy
  • Humans
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking Cessation