Review article: smoking cessation as primary therapy to modify the course of Crohn's disease


Dr J. C. Mansfield, Gastroenterology Department, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP, UK.


This article aims to offer an updated review of the effects of smoking on inflammatory bowel disease, and provide a review of the methods of achieving smoking cessation. A systematic review of Embase and Medline databases was conducted. Smoking causes opposing effects on ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The odds ratio of developing ulcerative colitis for smokers compared with lifetime non-smokers is 0.41. Conversely, smokers with Crohn's disease have a more aggressive disease requiring more therapeutic intervention. Smoking cessation is associated with a 65% reduction in the risk of a relapse as compared with continued smokers, a similar magnitude to that obtained with immunosuppressive therapy. Although difficult to achieve smoking cessation can best be encouraged by accessing appropriate counselling services, nicotine replacement therapy and bupropion. Using a combination of these treatments there is an improved chance of success of up to 20% compared with an unassisted quit attempt. Smoking cessation unequivocally improves the course of Crohn's disease and should be a primary therapeutic aim in smokers with Crohn's disease.