A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel has among the highest incidences of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – gastroenterological conditions such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis – in the world, and it has increased by 40 percent in the past decade among both children and adults.
This was disclosed Tuesday morning by Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s chief of pediatric gastroenterology, Dr. Dan Turner, to mark World IBD Day.
Turner, in his research on the collection of diseases, is the first to give an estimate of the incidence of IBD here.
Some 37,000 patients (or 451 per 100,000 people) are now have it, compared to estimates 10 years ago of about 30,000.
It is thought that 60% of these patients have Crohn’s, while the rest have ulcerative colitis. Both are incurable.
The main reason for the increase is the combination of a strong genetic predisposition along with diverse environmental factors, such as an increase in socioeconomic level, rising standards of hygiene and living standards, industrialized food, air pollution, the use of chemicals and so on, Turner explained.
Among the symptoms of IBD are severe abdominal pain and constant diarrhea and weight loss. In children, it can affect growth. When inflammatory flare-ups occur, there is often a need for hospitalization and surgery. All this results in functional difficulties and a reduced quality of life.
The Jerusalem study also found that there has been a drop in the outbreak age of the disease, which is reflected in practice in the increase among newborns and infants up to the age of two in hospital outpatient clinics.
The study, funded by the Helmsley Foundation, included tens of thousands of patients throughout the country. It was carried out with the cooperation of the four health funds and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Rambam Medical Center, Soroka University Medical Center, Rabin Medical Center- Beilinson Campus and Hadassah University Medical Center.
The main goals were to build the country’s first accurate database on the incidence of IBD, which until now was lacking, making it impossible to know exactly how many cases there have been and by how much they increased.
“Our data are stunning, because they show that Israel has among highest incidence along with parts of northern Canada, Scandinavia, the United States and Scotland.
Moreover, in these countries, the incidence has declined or stabilized, but here, the trend is rising,” the SZMC gastroenterologist said.
The study, which began in 2012, has not yet been completed and is expected to take another two years, but the current figure was so significant that Turner presented it at recent meetings of the Israel Gastroenterology Society and the European Conference on Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.
Eyal Tzur, head of the association that supports IBD patients and increases awareness (www.ccfi.co.il), said: “The continuing increasing trend of inflammatory bowel diseases here reinforces the need for patients to be assisted by our organization.
Although these chronic diseases have far-reaching effects on patients, treatment allows them to live a better life and continue to follow their routines. Patients can contact us for a wide basket of support services, including legal advice, nutritional counseling, [and] help in dealing with educational institutions and the military.”