Smoking heightens risk of Crohn's relapse after intestinal resection: 3 study insights

Smokers are more likely to experience Crohn's disease relapses after surgical intestinal resection, according to a study in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

The researchers identified 240 patients with Crohn's disease, 128 of whom were given daily oral mercaptopurine treatment and 112 of whom were given an oral placebo. They followed these patients for up to three years, to investigate whether the medication was able to prevent or postpone Crohn's disease relapses.

Here's what you need to know:

1. In the mercaptopurine group, 13 percent of patients had a clinical relapse; in the placebo group, 23 percent of patients had a clinical relapse.

2. The only subgroup analysis of patient characteristics that proved significant was smoking status: 46 percent of smokers in the placebo group had a clinical relapse, compared with only 10 percent of smokers in the mercaptopurine group.

3. To compare, only 16 percent of non-smokers in the placebo group had a clinical relapse; only 13 percent of non-smokers in the mercaptopurine group had a relapse.

The researchers concluded that mercaptopurine was effective in preventing postoperative clinical recurrence of Crohn's disease, but only for smokers. However, they emphasize that smoking cessation is still the most effective technique to prevent Crohn's disease relapses.

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