While data has shown that nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may worsen established IBD, whether these medications may serve as a trigger for IBD is less clear. One recent study indicates that NSAIDs may raise the risk of developing IBD (Ann Intern Med 2012; 156: 350-9).

This study examined the risk by using data from the Nurses Health Study which included 76,795 women.  Aspirin and NSAID use were self-reported.


  • “123 incident cases of CD and 117 cases of UC occurred over 18 years and 1,295,317 person-years of follow-up”
  • Frequent NSAIDs users (at least 15 days per month) had “increased risk for both CD (absolute difference in age-adjusted incidence, 6 cases per 100,000 person-years [95% CI, 0 to 13]; multivariate hazard ratio, 1.59 [CI, 0.99 to 2.56])”
  • And “UC (absolute difference, 7 cases per 100,000 person-years [CI, 1 to 12]; multivariate hazard ratio, 1.87 [CI, 1.16 to 2.99])”
  • There was no association with acetaminophen or aspirin within the same cohort.  This lessens the possibility of a false association; if subjects were treating GI symptoms, it is likely that an association would have been seen with all analgesics

The authors conclude that any absolute risk is low and therefore more important in understanding mechanism rather than in altering clinical use of these medications.

Link to abstract: Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use, and risk for Crohn …

Additional NSAID references:

  • Gastroenterol 1966; 51: 430.  Sentinel article describing NSAID GI risk.
  • Gastroenterol 2008; 134: 1224.  Use of NSAIDs and risk prevention.
  • Clin Gastro & Hep 2007; 5: 1040. Long term effects of NSAIDs similar to COX-2 selective agents on small bowel mucosal damage (62% had abnormalities vs 50% of COX-2)
  • Clin Gastro & Hep 2006; 4: 1082 & 1090. Consensus on gastroprotection with NSAIDs.
  • Clin Gastro & Hep 2006; 4: 196.  NSAIDs worsen IBD.
  • Clin Gastro & Hep 2003; 1: 160.  Ileitis due to NSAIDs.

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