Ulcerative Colitis Patients are at Higher Risk for Liver Disease, Study Finds

According to a story from MD Magazine, a recent study that was presented at Digestive Disease Week 2019 suggests that patients with ulcerative colitis, a rare form of inflammatory bowel disease, are at a substantially greater risk for a number of serious liver diseases, ranging in severity from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease to cirrhosis. The results were drawn from an analysis that included massive data pool of over 62,000,000 patients.

About Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a long term condition which is characterized by the appearance of ulcers and generalized inflammation of rectum and colon. The exact cause of the condition remains a mystery, but there do appear to be some risk factors, such as family history, diet, and exposure to the medication isotrentinoin. Smoking appears to have a slightly protective effect. Symptoms can include anemia, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and abdominal pain. They tend to appear in as relapsing-remitting pattern. In severe disease there is a risk of serious complications, such as megacolon or inflammatory disease in other parts of the body. The risk of colon cancer is also elevated. Treatment may include dietary changes, medication to control inflammation, and, when complications appear, surgery. To learn more about ulcerative colitis, click here.

About The Study

The study was prompted by a number of physicians who began to notice that liver diseases appeared to be more common in people with ulcerative colitis. The difference in risk was not minor. The study found that the prevalence of liver disease in these patients was over double that of the general population. One of the study authors, Dr. Benjamin Click, says that there are a couple of factors that could potentially contribute to the increased cases of liver disease.

First, he says that one possibility is the fact that many of the treatments that are used to control ulcerative colitis have some risk of liver toxicity. Another aspect are the characteristics of the disease itself. Ulcerative colitis presents with inflammation and there is also an increased level of gut permeability. These factors could also play a role in boosting the risk of liver disease for patients.

The results of this study were originally published in the journal Gastroenterology.

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