Smoking is associated with several functional gastrointestinal symptoms

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2016 Aug;51(8):914-22. doi: 10.1080/00365521.2016.1174878. Epub 2016 May 10.


Background: The etiology behind functional gastrointestinal symptoms is not clear. Only a few studies have examined how lifestyle factors affect these symptoms, especially in middle-aged or elder subjects. The aim of the present study was to describe the prevalence of functional gastrointestinal symptoms in a Swedish population-based cohort of middle-aged to elder subjects, and to examine associations between symptoms and smoking and alcohol use.

Methods and materials: This study was conducted on a web-based baseline questionnaire from a part of the EpiHealth study. The cohort included 16,840 subjects between 45 and 75 years of age. Subjects with organic gastrointestinal diseases were excluded. Gastrointestinal symptoms were defined as functional abdominal pain, functional bloating, functional constipation, and functional diarrhea. Parameters regarding age, gender, educational level, occupation, civil status, physical activity, and body mass index (BMI) were described, and association between smoking and alcohol habits were calculated, adjusted for parameters with >5 percentage difference between cases and controls.

Results: An association was found between former and current smoking and functional abdominal pain (OR: 1.15, 95% CI: 1.03-1.28 vs. OR: 1.30, 95% CI: 1.08-1.57). Former smoking was associated with functional bloating (OR: 1.18, 95% CI: 1.04-1.33) and functional constipation (OR: 1.28, 95% CI: 1.06-1.56). There was a trend of decreased functional abdominal pain, functional constipation, and functional diarrhea in subjects with a moderate alcohol intake.

Conclusion: Smoking is associated with functional abdominal pain, functional bloating, and functional constipation. A moderate alcohol intake tends to be associated with decreased risk of functional gastrointestinal symptoms.

Keywords: Alcohol; functional gastrointestinal symptoms; smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology*
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Constipation / etiology*
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires