Objective: To study the incidence of ulcerative colitis and to analyse the pattern of the disease in the prefecture of Heraklion, Crete.
Participants: The population at risk comprised 263,670 inhabitants in the prefecture of Heraklion (2641 km2). The two regional hospitals, five health centres, 109 private family doctors and 145 specialists participated in the study.
Methods: A prospective and population-based epidemiological study of ulcerative colitis over five years from 1990 to the end of 1994.
Results: Overall, 117 patients with ulcerative colitis (75 males and 42 females) were newly diagnosed during the study period. The mean annual incidence of the disease for the years 1990-1994 was 8.9 per 10(5) inhabitants (95% CI 7.2-10.4). The male to female ratio was 1.8:1. There were no significant difference between the age-specific incidences of the age groups. The majority (51.3%) of the patients were exsmokers and one-third had never smoked. A family history of first-degree relatives positive for inflammatory bowel disease was obtained in 9.6% of our patients.
Conclusion: Ulcerative colitis is common in Crete; its incidence is as high as in Northern Europe.