Ulcerative Colitis Heals Better with Age

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 6 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say those who developed ulcerative colitis after age 50 had better outcomes that those stricken at a younger age.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis find — in patients with similar symptoms and given similar treatment — 64 percent of patients diagnosed after age 50 were in remission after one year compared to 49 percent of those who developed colitis at younger ages.

The study, published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, suggests treatment may be more effective in those whose immune system is aging.

“We know from research by other investigators that as people age their immune systems tend to quiet down, and the results from our study may reflect that finding,” lead investigator Dr. Matthew Ciorba says in a statement. “Younger patients are more likely to have robust inflammatory responses, so their disease is harder to quiet down.”

Ciorba and colleagues looked at 295 inflammatory bowel disease clinic patients over a seven-year period. Patients in remission were those with no clinical symptoms but who may still need treatment for inflammation.

“The age at which patients are affected tends to split into two specific waves,” Ciorba says. “In the clinic, we see a number of patients who get the disease from their late teens to their mid 20s. Then there’s a second peak of patients who aren’t affected until after the age of 50.”

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