AIM: To evaluate potential risk factors in the development of ulcerative colitis (UC) in China.
METHODS: A total of 1308 patients with UC and 1308 age-matched and sex-matched controls were prospectively studied in China. The UC cases were collected from 17 hospitals in China from April 2007 to April 2010. Uniform questionnaires were designed to investigate risk factors including smoking, appendectomy, stress, socio-economic conditions, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral contraceptives, diet, breastfeeding, infections and family sanitary conditions. Group comparisons by each factor were done using simple logistic regression analysis. Conditional logistic regression was used for multivariate analysis.
RESULTS: By univariate analysis, the variables predictive of UC included feeling stress, light and heavy alcoholic drinking, spicy food, sugar consumption and infectious diarrhea, while heavy tea intake and tap water consumption were protective against UC. On multivariate analysis, the protective factor for UC was tap water consumption [odds ratios (OR) = 0.424, 95%CI: 0.302-0.594, P < 0.001]; while the potential risk factors for UC were heavy sugar consumption (OR = 1.632, 95%CI: 1.156-2.305, P < 0.001), spicy food (light intake: OR = 3.329, 95%CI: 2.282-4.857, P < 0.001; heavy intake: OR = 3.979, 95%CI: 2.700-5.863, P < 0.001), and often feeling stress (OR = 1.981, 95%CI: 1.447-2.711, P < 0.001). Other factors, such as smoking habit, appendectomy, breastfeeding, a history of measles, rural or urban residence, education, oral contraceptives, and NSAID use have not been found to have a significant association with the development of UC in the present study.
CONCLUSION: Our study showed tap water consumption was a protective factor for UC, while spicy food, heavy sugar consumption and often feeling stress were risk factors for UC in this Chinese population.