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Less colitis among smokers.

Less colitis among smokers

Alter all the bad news about its link tocancer and other diseases, does smoking tobacco actually have a positive health effect? Maybe so, according to a study by physicians in Seattle and Denver published in the March 19 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.

Investigating previous reports thatsmokers have a decreased risk of developing ulcerative colitis compared with nonsmokers, the researchers did a case-control study using former and current smokers served by a Seattle-based health maintenance organization. They found that people who had given up smoking were twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop the rare but serious disease, which is an inflammation of intestinal walls. Those currently smoking, however, had a 40 percent lower risk of developing the colitis than did those who never smoked.

Although the number of cigarettesused by current smokers did not seem to affect colitis incidence, the risk of disease rose among reformed smokers in proportion to the total number of cigarettes smoked before quitting. The authors say there are "currently no plausible biologic explanations' for the apparent protective effect, and suggest that weight gain and a host of other factors be investigated.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 4, 1987
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