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Researchers Link Crohn’s Disease to Oral Contraceptive use

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Researchers Link Crohn’s Disease to Oral Contraceptive use

Researchers Link Crohn’s Disease to Oral Contraceptive use

Taking birth control pills for five years or longer may cause Crohn’s disease, an incurable and often debilitating digestive system disease.

Crohn’s is a painful inflammation of the digestive system that is most commonly found in the intestines. Crohn’s patients have difficulty digesting food and suffer from diarrhea, fatigue and anemia. There is no cure for the illness, and it can be so painful that sufferers have been known to commit suicide to escape the agony. At least two Britons have traveled to the controversial Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end their lives, according to Daily Mail.

Crohn’s became increasingly common starting in the 1960s, when widespread use of birth control pills first began. On March 13, researchers announced that they believed oral contraceptives were at least partly to blame for the uptick in cases. Dr. Hamed Khalil, a Harvard gastroenterologist, says that Crohn’s cases have risen “two- or three-fold” in the past 50 years. The sex hormones in the Pill, doctors say, can weaken the gut and make conditions favorable for Crohn’s to develop, Daily Mail reported.

In Britain, about 100,000 people suffer with Crohn’s disease – one in every 650 people. Only a fraction of those cases are officially diagnosed. Doctors have pointed the blame at evolving diets for years, but Dr. Khalil told the Daily Mail that research into the suspected link had been “fairly disappointing.”

In a study of 230,000 American women led by Dr. Khalil, females who had used the Pill for five years or more were found to have a three times higher risk for Crohn’s than females who had never been on it. A British study reached a similar conclusion. Dr. Khalil says that altering the natural sex hormones in a woman’s body makes the gut lining more permeable. It also reduces the level of “friendly” bacteria in the intestines and negatively impacts the immune system.  Generally, adult women are only slightly more likely to have Crohn’s than men, but twice as many women suffer from one of the main forms of Crohn’s, where the colon is affected, according to Daily Mail.

Dr. Khalil also said that genetics play a large role in which women develop Crohn’s disease, and that the combination of genetics and birth control use seem to raise the risk substantially. “It was ‘not far-fetched’ to imagine that women will soon be warned not to go on the Pill if they carry certain high-risk genes,” he said.

Dr. Simon Anderson, a consultant gastroenterologist at London Bridge hospital, said the Pill appeared to act as a ‘trigger’ to developing Crohn’s. “‘If you have a family history of Crohn’s, I would advise against starting on the Pill,” he told Daily Mail. disclaimer: This article: Researchers Link Crohn’s Disease to Oral Contraceptive use was posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 3:40 pm at and is filed under Defective Drug Lawsuits.

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