The effects of smoking on the onset and clinical course of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have been widely debated. Although smoking appears to have a clearly unfavorable effect on the course in Crohn's Disease (CD), the relationship between smoking and localization of the disease is less clear.
Aim: To evaluate, in our group of patients, the relationship between smoking and the development of ulcerative colitis (UC) or CD, and between smoking and the localization of CD in the large bowel or in other sites.
Patients and methods: The smoking habits of 171 patients at the time of diagnosis were assessed with a questionnaire. Subjects were classified into three subgroups as smokers, nonsmokers and ex-smokers. Current smokers were grouped according to their level of consumption as those who smoked fewer than or more than 10 cigarettes per day. A total of 161 patients were studied (UC n = 69, CD n = 92). Patients with CD were divided into those with colonic disease and those with no colonic involvement. We evaluated the relationship between smoking and the form of IBD, localization (colonic or noncolonic) and the presence of perianal disease (PAD) in CD. The results were analyzed with the chi-squared test.
Results: Smoking was more frequent in patients with CD than in those with UC (72.8% vs 31.9%). Among patients with CD, more patients without colonic involvement were smokers (84.6% vs 64.2%). However, among patients with CD involving the colon, smoking was significantly more common (64.2%) than among patients who had UC (31.9%).
Conclusions: Our findings confirm a relationship between smoking and CD. Smoking seems to be associated with some degree of protection of the colonic mucosa, especially in heavy smokers.