Risk factors for Crohn's disease may include:

  • Age. Crohn's disease can occur at any age, but you're likely to develop the condition when you're young. Most people who develop Crohn's disease are diagnosed before they're 30 years old.
  • Ethnicity. Although whites have the highest risk of the disease, it can affect any ethnic group. If you're of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish descent, your risk is even higher.
  • Family history. You're at higher risk if you have a close relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, with the disease. As many as 1 in 5 people with Crohn's disease has a family member with the disease.
  • Cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn's disease. Smoking also leads to more severe disease and a greater risk of surgery. If you smoke, stop. Discuss this with your doctor and get help. There are many smoking-cessation programs available if you are unable to quit on your own.
  • Where you live. If you live in an urban area or in an industrialized country, you're more likely to develop Crohn's disease. Because Crohn's disease occurs more often among people living in cities and industrial nations, it may be that environmental factors, including a diet high in fat or refined foods, play a role in Crohn's disease. People living in northern climates also seem to have a greater risk of the disease.
Aug. 09, 2011

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