Results from a recent British study are showing a possible link between daily aspirin use and a higher risk of developing Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Researches from the University of East Anglia School of Medicine in Norwich, U.K., followed 200,000 volunteers ages 30 to 74 from several European countries over several years. Their findings show that study participants taking aspirin regularly for a year or more had about a five times greater risk of developing Crohn's disease than those volunteers not taking daily aspirin. The study did not show a link between aspirin use and the development of ulcerative colitis, another type of IBD.

Some medical experts speculate that a possible reason why aspirin may boost Crohn's disease risk is that aspirin can damage the lining of the bowel, potentially triggering the disorder in people with a genetic predisposition to the disease.

Still, the study researchers caution that their results only suggest a link between aspirin use and the increased risk of developing Crohn's disease and that the study doesn't prove a direct correlation. Plus, the risk in the study volunteers was very small-only one in every 2,000 aspirin users. The researchers also didn't know how much aspirin the volunteers took every day.

Because taking a daily aspirin provides so many health benefits, including helping to prevent heart attack and strokes, the British researchers cautioned people against stopping the medication until more definitive studies can be done to determine the exact role aspirin may have in Crohn's disease risk.

Over a million Americans suffer from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, resulting in abdominal pain and severe diarrhea. While there's no cure for Crohn's disease, there are effective medications that can greatly reduce disease symptoms and even put the disease in long-term remission.

Living With Crohn's Disease

In addition to medication, making some diet and lifestyle changes may help you control Crohn's disease symptoms and lengthen the time between flare-ups. Try,

  • Limiting dairy products
  • Eliminating high-fat foods such as butter, margarine, cream sauces, and fried foods
  • Eating five or six small meals a day instead of two or three larger ones
  • Drinking plenty of liquids, especially water. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages can exacerbate diarrhea
  • Exercising. Even mild exercise can help lower stress and normalize bowel function. Ask your doctor to develop an exercise plan that's right for you.