Risk Factors


Dr. Mansfield
There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing ulcerative colitis. Dr. Malone, can you tell us about these factors?

Dr. Malone
Yes I can, Dr. Mansfield. Risk factors that play a role in the development of ulcerative colitis include:

  • Autoimmune reaction: Normally, the immune system protects the body from infection by identifying and destroying "enemies" of the body, such as bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful foreign substances. In the case of ulcerative colitis, the immune system thinks the lining of the colon is the "enemy." It's thought that bacteria and viruses mistakenly trigger the immune system to attack the inner lining of the large intestine, which causes inflammation.
  • Other autoimmune diseases: Having an autoimmune disease increases the risk for developing other autoimmune conditions, such as ulcerative colitis.
  • Genetics: Ulcerative colitis sometimes runs in families.
  • Certain medications: Some studies suggest that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, antibiotics, and oral contraceptives may slightly increase the risk of developing ulcerative colitis. NSAIDs are known to worsen ulcerative colitis, or cause an ulcerative colitis flare if taken by a patient who already has the condition.
  • Diet: There is some evidence that a diet high in fat may slightly increase the risk of developing ulcerative colitis. (and)
  • Ethnicity: Some particular groups of Jewish descent are very likely to develop ulcerative colitis.