Skip to content

    Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

    Font Size

    Food Poisoning May Raise IBD Risk

    Study Shows Food-Borne Infections Are Linked to Risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    June 1, 2009 -- Salmonella or campylobacter food poisoning triples the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) -- for at least 15 years.

    IBD typically refers to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It's not clear exactly what causes IBD. Genetics, environment, diet, abnormal blood vessels, infections, immune-system overreaction, and psychological factors all have been blamed.

    To see whether infections play a role, Henrik Nielsen, MD, of Aalborg Hospital in Denmark took advantage of his nation's system of tracking citizen's health records.

    The system allowed Nielsen and colleagues to look at whether people who've been treated for certain infections are at higher risk of developing IBD.

    The researchers looked at two kinds of food poisoning: salmonella and campylobacter. They identified 13,149 people treated for either infection and compared their health records to those of people who never suffered these infections.

    People who had one or the other kind of food-borne infection had a 1.2% risk of getting IBD over the next 15 years. Those who never had either infection had only a 0.5% risk of IBD. Statistical analysis showed that the food-borne infections tripled IBD risk for at least the next 15 years.

    "If we can reduce and prevent the spread of food bacteria and infections, we may reduce or even largely eliminate IBD in the long term," Nielsen says in a news release.

    Nielsen reported the findings in a presentation to this week's Digestive Disease Week (DDW), held May 30 to June 4 in Chicago. DDW is an annual conference sponsored by the American Gastroenterological Association, the American Association for the study of Liver Diseases, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract.

    Today on WebMD

    woman with pains in abdomen
    Get personalized tips.
    doctor talking with female patient
    10 questions for your doctor.
    woman clutching at stomach
    Causes, symptoms, treatments, and more.
    butter curls
    What to eat and avoid.
    Living With Crohns Slideshow
    Ulcerative Colitis Surgery Slideshow
    crohns disease healthcheck
    Ulcerative Colitis Health Check
    Crohns Symptoms
    Ulcerative Colitis Diet
    Crohns Prebiotic
    woman holding stomach