The link between smoking and worsening of Crohn's symptoms
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has associated smoking with the development of diseases of the digestive system or worsening of symptoms.
Included in the digestive system are the gallbladder, pancreas, liver, and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (or the digestive tract). Organs within the digestive tracts include the small intestine, the large intestine (including colon, rectum, and anus), the stomach, mouth, and esophagus. The purpose of the digestive system is to break down food into essential nutrients that the body needs. Those nutrients help the body produce energy, grow, and repair cells.
Research has suggested that smoking can increase the risk of cancers or issues with the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, colon, and rectum.
Smoking has also been found to contribute to a variety of different disorders and issues of the digestive system, including heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, liver diseases, and peptic ulcers. Furthermore, smoking has been found to increase the risk of gallstones, colon polyps, pancreatitis, and Crohn's disease.
Researchers believe that smoking might cause a defect in the defense mechanism of the intestines, cause immune system alterations that increase inflammation or decrease the flow of blood to the intestines.
For some unknown reason, the increased risk of developing Crohn's disease in smokers seems to increase even more in women than in men.