Smoking cigarettes can be harmful to the intestines and also increase the risk of developing Crohn’s disease, says a study. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract causing severe pain.

‘It is more likely to occur in people with reactive airway disease (bronchial spasm), suggesting that inflammation in the lungs is linked to inflammation in the gut’, says an expert. Smoking also increases the levels of CD4+ T cells, a type of white blood cell, which releases a pro-inflammatory protein called interferon-gamma. These white blood cells activated by cigarette smoke in the lungs, travel to the colon to cause colitis, an inflammation of the colon resembling Crohn’s disease. ‘Our results suggest that cigarette smoking activates specific white blood cells in the lung, which might later move to the colon, triggering bowel inflammation, explains the expert. ‘Smokers, especially those who also have bowel disease, should reduce their smoking.’ The researchers also found increased levels of mucus and inflammation in the colon, and blood in the feces of the smoke-exposed mice.

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