(Barcelona, October 21, 2019) The number of people suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is three times higher than previous estimates, with sufferers also at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC), according to new research presented today at UEG Week Barcelona 2019.
Researchers from Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS trust and the University of Birmingham examined IBD cases from the beginning of the century to attain accurate data on ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD) prevalence in the UK. Previously, only limited or old data existed, but by utilising data from the Health Improvement Network (THIN), a nationally representative UK primary care database, this new evidence demonstrates that IBD prevalence is three times higher than previously reported, with UC and CD prevalence increasing by 55% and 83% respectively, between 2000 and 2017 (Figure 1a/b). The study also showed that IBD prevalence is predicted to rise by almost a quarter from 2017 to 2025.
Affecting over 3 million people across Europe, inflammatory bowel diseases are a group of disorders involving chronic inflammation of the gut. The severity of the symptoms and the long-lasting nature of the diseases can have an extremely debilitating impact on the lives of sufferers. For example, higher rates of depression and reduced workforce participation in patients with UC and CD has been reported in previous studies, with an estimated 44% of IBD sufferers claiming they had lost or quit their job because of IBD.
Researcher, Dominic King, from the University of Birmingham, who is presenting the findings for the first time at UEG Week, comments “Our study suggests that IBD prevalence is likely to rise substantially over the next decade. As there is currently no known cure for IBD, patients will often need complex and costly treatments throughout their lives. This predicted rise in prevalence may place an even greater strain on already overburdened healthcare systems.”
“The burden of IBD is compounded further by an association with colorectal cancer”, comments Dr King. “Our study found that patients suffering from Crohn’s disease had a 23% increased risk of developing CRC compared to matched controls, whilst ulcerative colitis patients had a significantly elevated risk of 43%. The rise in prevalence of IBD could therefore potentially lead to an associated rise in CRC cases.”
Accurate evidence on the IBD burden is essential for service planning to ensure patients receive an excellent standard of care across Europe. “The results of the study are alarming, particularly if we consider the fact that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are lifelong diseases that can begin at a young age and have a huge impact on a patient’s quality of life”, commented Salvo Leone, President of the European Federation of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA). “The cost to society, either through direct medical costs or indirect costs such as lost days at work, lost educational opportunities, or caring for an affected family member, are enormous. We need to put all our efforts into developing effective treatment and disease management strategies that allow patients and their families to lead happier and healthier lives.”
Notes to Editors
For further information, or to arrange an interview with Dr Dominic King, please contact Luke Paskins on +44 (0)1444 811099 or +44 (0)7732 499170 or
We kindly ask that a reference to UEG Week 2019 is included when communicating any information within this press release.
About Dr Dominic King
Dr Dominic King is a gastroenterology trainee based in the West Midlands, UK. He attained his medical degree at the University of Birmingham. He is currently undertaking a doctoral research programme, investigating the inflammatory bowel diseases using routinely gathered data from both primary and secondary care.
The European Federation of Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA) is an umbrella organisation representing 39 national Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis (collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD) patient associations. We are an organization of people united in our commitment to improve the life of the over 10 million people living with IBD worldwide (3.4 million in Europe alone) and to give them a louder voice and more visibility.
About UEG Week
UEG Week is the largest and most prestigious gastroenterology meeting in Europe and has developed into a global congress. It attracts over 14,000 participants each year, from more than 120 countries, and numbers are steadily rising. UEG Week provides a forum for basic and clinical scientists from across the globe to present their latest research in digestive and liver diseases, and also features a two-day postgraduate course that brings together top lecturers in their fields for a weekend of interactive learning.
UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European medical specialist and national societies focusing on digestive health. Together, its member societies represent over 30,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge.
To advance the standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across the world and to reduce the burden of digestive diseases, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:
- UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world
- UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
- Activity Grants, promoting and funding educational projects in the field of digestive health to advance and harmonise the training and continuing education of professionals
- UEG Journal, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
- Public Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe
- Quality of Care, European-based and English clinical practice guidelines, clinical standards, consensus, position papers and standard protocols in the field of digestive health, are available in the repository.
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Luke Paskins on +44 (0)1444 811099 or
1. King. D et al. 2019. Incidence and Prevalence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the UK between 2000 and 2016 and Associated Mortality and subsequent risk of Colorectal Cancer. Presented at UEG Week October 21, 2019.
2. The European Federation of Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA), Basic Information, Brussels. (ONLINE): Available at:
3. Burisch. J, Jess. T, Martinato. M, Lakatos. P, on behalf of ECCO-EpiCom (2013). The burden of inflammatory bowel disease in Europe. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp. 322-337.
This part of information is sourced from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-10/sh-ipt101419.php