LOUISVILLE, Ky. – People who are exposed to tobacco smoke at an early age are three times more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease later in life, a University of Louisville study has shown.

    A research team led by U of L surgery professor Susan Galandiuk identified a strong link between childhood exposure to smoking and two inflammatory bowel ailments, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

    “Kentucky has high rates of both smoking and inflammatory bowel disease,” said Galandiuk, who directs U of L’s digestive surgery research laboratory. “Our findings demonstrate a definite correlation between the two.”

    Galandiuk’s team examined inflammatory bowel risk factors in a group of nearly 700 people, most of whom grew up in Kentucky. Nearly a third of those surveyed had Crohn’s disease, around a fourth had ulcerative colitis and the rest had neither. People with one of the bowel diseases were three times more likely to have started smoking in their early teens than the healthy people, the study showed.

    The researchers also found that Crohn’s disease sufferers were twice as likely to report prenatal or childhood smoke exposure than their healthy counterparts.

    Kentucky has one of the nation’s highest rates of adult smoking and the second-highest rate of smoking among pregnant women.

    The full text of the study, published this month in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease, is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/114026652/PDFSTART