The underlying cause of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) remains elusive to scientists studying this condition. While certain risk factors are understood to play a role, it seems that a combination of factors must be present for a person to develop IBD. Our doctors keep up to date on the latest scientific research and consider genetic, immunologic, and environmental factors when assessing patients for IBD.
The IBD Center of Excellence offers a team of renowned gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons specializing in the comprehensive management of inflammatory bowel disease. Patients treated at our state-of-the-art outpatient center in Beverly Hills receive highly individualized care with exceptional outcomes. To learn more about risk factors and causes of IBD or to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians, contact us at (888) 421-4172.
Genetic and Immunologic Predisposition for IBD
Our understanding of the genetic factors underlying disease has expanded rapidly over the past several decades. It has long been observed that having a relative with IBD increases your risk ten-fold, a fact which suggests a genetic basis for the disease. Recently, several genes have been identified that alter the way our immune system functions, possibly contributing to the development of IBD.
The immune system of a healthy individual consists of regulatory cells, which must distinguish between normal material and threats to the body, and attack cells, which are responsible for destroying a threat. People with IBD suffer from a critical imbalance of these immune system cells, with fewer regulatory cells and a much higher level of attack cells. Researchers believe that this imbalance can cause the body to misidentify contents of the gastrointestinal tract as a threat and launch an attack, resulting in inflammatory bowel disease.
Several new studies suggest that these genetic and immunologic changes alone do not cause someone to develop IBD, and that there is likely an additional environmental trigger.
Environmental Risk Factors for IBD
IBD is more prevalent in developed countries and urban cities compared with underdeveloped or rural regions. This trend has led some researchers to suggest that “westernization” of lifestyle, including changes in diet, smoking, use of oral contraceptives, and exposure to pollution may make people more susceptible to IBD. Of these factors, smoking has been designated the most important environmental trigger for increasing one’s risk of developing IBD. Perinatal or atypical bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract may also play a role in the disease.
Whether genetic, immunologic, or environmental factors are involved in your case of IBD, our gastrointestinal experts will conduct a comprehensive diagnostic examination to determine the most effective treatment plan for your condition.
Contact an IBD Specialist in Los Angeles
The IBD Center of Excellence in Beverly Hills offers a team of world-renowned gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons who have trained at some of the top medical schools and residencies in the country. Our extensive experience in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, coupled with a highly individualized approach, helps us to deliver compassionate and effective care to each patient. For more information on the causes and risk factors for IBD, or to schedule a consultation with an IBD specialist, please call (888) 421-4172 or fill out our contact form.
Next, learn about the Symptoms of IBD.