• Age. Most people who develop IBD are diagnosed before they're 30 years old. But some people don't develop the disease until their 50s or 60s.
  • Race or ethnicity. Although whites have the highest risk of the disease, it can occur in any race. If you're of 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.
  • Cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is the most important controllable risk factor for developing Crohn's disease. However, smoking may provide some protection against ulcerative colitis. The overall health benefits of not smoking make it important to try to quit.
  • Isotretinoin use. Isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret; formerly Accutane) is a medication sometimes used to treat scarring cystic acne or acne. Some studies suggest it may be a risk factor for IBD, but a clear association between IBD and isotretinoin has not been established.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox), diclofenac sodium (Voltaren, Solaraze) and others. These medications may increase the risk of developing IBD or worsen disease in people who have IBD.
  • Where you live. If you live in an urban area or in an industrialized country, you're more likely to develop IBD. Therefore, it may be that environmental factors, including a diet high in fat or refined foods, play a role. People living in northern climates also seem to be at greater risk.
Sep. 27, 2014

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