The strongest environmental factors identified for ulcerative colitis (UC) are cigarette smoking and appendectomy. However, most studies have been performed using case-controls from hospital-based populations. The purpose of this study was to compare the history of previous appendectomy and smoking habits in a group of patients with UC and a control group, followed by gastroenterologists in private practice.
We performed a case control study in which 100 physicians recruited UC-patients and age and sex matched controls. Data were collected during a single visit. Based on a standardized questionnaire, UC patients and controls were divided into never, former or current smokers, and into subjects with or without a previous history of appendectomy.
One hundred and ninety eight age- and sex-matched pairs of UC patients and controls were included. The prevalence of appendectomy in the UC-patients and control group was 12% and 46%, respectively. The pairwise-matched OR of ulcerative colitis for previous appendectomy was 0.10 (95% CI, 0.05-0.21) (P<0.0001). The OR for former and never smokers versus current smokers was 2.40 (95% CI 1.31-4.38) (P=0.004). In UC-patients, the OR of family history of UC compared with controls was 2.80 (95% CI, 1.01-7.77) (P=0.048).
This case-control study confirmed a strong negative correlation between both appendectomy and tobacco smoking, and ulcerative colitis in patients followed-up by gastroenterological practitioners.