Certain moronic cigarette advocates on the web are peeing their pants: there is evidence that nicotine is a helpful treatment for UC sufferers. In other words, “Yay cigarettes! Smoke a lot and your colitis will be okay!” Some of the bullshit facts quoted include:
1. Non-smokers are more likely to develop UC
2. Cigarettes provide relief to all UC sufferers
3. Your overall quality of life will improve if you take up smoking because then your UC won’t hurt and cigarettes never add complications to anyone’s health, especially folks who are using dysplasia-encouraging immunosuppressors.
I think this is the most oft-wrongly-interpreted information, and I’m about to add my own biased opinion to the mix.
(Just for the record, I’ve never seen House, I love Hugh Laurie, and I love/d/olove cigarettes. Here’s a bucket of salt.)
First, point one oversimplifies what happens when UC first rears its bloody head; smoking causes a suppression of the immune system, much like some of the medications UCers take. I don’t think that non-smokers are more likely to develop UC; a non-smoking 21-year-old male and a smoking 21-year-old male may have the same chances genetically speaking. It’s just that cigarettes/nicotine act as a treatment, suppressing the outward signs of UC. When smokers quit, the suddenly-deprived bowel freaks the hell out.
This is directly related to point two, because not all UC sufferers are former or current smokers. It’s unproven whether or not nicotine gives marked relief to UC patients who have never delighted in the cig funpark.
Third, some drugs such as Imuran (!) have been shown to possibly cause dysplasia, or abnormal growth or development of organs/cells (fingers growing out of legs! Um…all right, I wish), which can lead to cancer. Why, oh, why would one want to increase that possibility by adding carcinogens? Granted, the two may work on very different levels, but because the body is a integrated system I can’t imagine the two would avoid each other.
Apparently, on an early episode of House, the good doctor prescribes cigarettes to a patient, saying studies have shown that “cigarette smoking is one of the most effective ways to control inflammatory bowel”… it is not said which specific IBD the patient has (Crohn’s is also classed as IBD, and smoking can exacerbate Crohnies’ symptoms) and cigarettes are lauded as “most effective?” They are cheap, yes. They will not keep you in remission, so I would not call that most effective. My personal experience is that now I’ve given up on a regular basis, my UC gets a little squirrelly if I indulge again.
They taste nice, though.
Even the crappy VL’s at 1.69 per pack with their dopey roulette wheel packaging.
I miss them. But I don’t delude myself thinking they’re good for me.
In other news, I had some fascinating bathroom experiences yesterday. But they can wait…
House quotes from: House MD Guide: Blogs, Answers
Some medical info from:
Health Reference Center Academic
Hanauer, SB “Medical therapy of ulcerative colitis.” The Lancet. v342, n.8868. 14 Aug 1993. p412
Srivastava ED et al. “Smoking, humoral immunity, and ulcerative colitis.” Gut. v32, n.9 Sept 1991. p1016
Lashner BA et al. “Testing nicotine gum for ulcerative colitis patients…” Digestive Diseases and Sciences. v35, n.7 July 1990. p827