Smoking Increases Risk of Digestive Diseases

If you are currently suffering from a digestive disorder like diverticulosis or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), understand that you are not alone. More than 60 million Americans struggle with digestive diseases, which caused more than 21 million hospitalizations in 2010 alone. Gastroesophageal reflux disease caused the greatest number of ambulatory care visits in 2010 with nearly 9 million cases. while chronic constipation was responsible for 4 million visits. Diverticular disease caused 2.7 million ambulatory care visits.

In addition to your daily diet affecting the severity of digestive disease symptoms, research has shown that smoking is linked to negatively impacting an individual’s digestive system. Smoking increases the odds that you will develop heartburn and GERD symptoms because the muscle that acts as a barrier between the esophagus and stomach—called the lower esophageal sphincter—is weakened by the smoke and so cannot as effectively prevent stomach contents from flowing back into the esophagus.

People who currently smoke or who previously smoked are at a higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease than those who have never smoked. Smoking also increases a person’s risk of developing colon polyps, pancreatitis, peptic ulcers and certain cancers, including cancer of the stomach and of the colon.

The good news is that quitting smoking can help stop some of your digestive disease symptoms from increasing in severity. If you are a smoker suffering from Crohn’s disease, quitting smoking can help to alleviate your symptoms.

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