Comorbidity Identified Between Bowel and Lung Diseases

Individuals with airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more likely to be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, a new study published in the European Respiratory Journal suggested.

Individuals with airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more likely to be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, a new study published in the European Respiratory Journal suggested.

From a population-based study in Québec, Canada, researchers identified 136,178 and 143,904 asthma and COPD patients from 2001 to 2006. Per asthmatics’ 100,000 person-years, they found an average incidence of 23.1 and 8.8 for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, respectively. Among the COPD cohort, investigators discovered 26.2 Crohn’s disease cases and 17 ulcerative colitis cases per 100,000 person-years.

“The incidence of Crohn’s disease in asthma and COPD patients was 27% and 55% higher than in the general population of Québec; the incidence of ulcerative colitis was 30% higher among COPD patients compared to the general population,” the writers penned.

In light of their discovery, the investigators recommended using these airway diseases as a predictor of IBDs in older patients, thus providing proactive treatment for the newly identified at-risk group.

“These findings have important implications for the early detection of inflammatory bowel disease in airway disease patients. Although a link has previously been suggested, this is the first study to find significantly increased rates of inflammatory bowel disease incidence in people with asthma and COPD,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Paul Brassard, from the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal said. “If we can confirm a link between the 2 conditions it will help diagnose and treat people sooner, reducing their symptoms and improving their quality of life.”