Users of oral steroids are at a reduced risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome

Authors

  • Consuelo Huerta MD, MPH,

    1. Centro Español de Investigación Farmacoepidemiológica (CEIFE), Madrid, Spain
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  • Luis Alberto García Rodríguez MD, MSc,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centro Español de Investigación Farmacoepidemiológica (CEIFE), Madrid, Spain
    • Centro Español de Investigación Farmacoepidemiológica (CEIFE), Almirante 28; 2°, 28004 Madrid, Spain.
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  • Mari-Ann Wallander PhD,

    1. Department of Epidemiology, AstraZeneca R&D Mölndal, Mölndal, Sweden
    2. Department of Public Health and Caring Science, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
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  • Saga Johansson MD, PhD

    1. Department of Epidemiology, AstraZeneca R&D Mölndal, Mölndal, Sweden
    2. Section of Preventive Cardiology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden
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Abstract

Purpose

To study whether irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is associated with the use of oral steroids and whether there is a dose- or duration-response.

Methods

We followed up a cohort of 65 270 patients aged 20–74 years old enrolled in the General Practice Research Database in the UK with at least one prescription for steroids between 1994 and 1999. We performed a nested case-control analysis to estimate the adjusted relative risk (RR) associated with the use of steroids using unconditional logistic regression. Cases were 466 patients with a first episode of IBS during follow-up and controls were 5000 individuals randomly selected from the study cohort.

Results

Current users of oral steroids presented an RR of 0.6 (95%CI: 0.4–0.9) compared to non-users. Doses greater than 10 mg of prednisolone daily were associated with an RR of 0.4 (95%CI: 0.2–0.9). When we stratified by age, no reduced risk of IBS was apparent under the age of 40 years. The reduced risk of IBS was greater among females than males.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that oral steroids can reduce the risk of a diagnosis of IBS. The apparent effect modification of age and sex deserves further research. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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