Lifestyle factors for the prevention of inflammatory bowel disease

EPIC-IBD investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective To estimate the proportion of cases of Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) that could be prevented by modifiable lifestyle factors. Design In a prospective cohort study of US adults from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS; n=72 290), NHSII (n=93 909) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS; n=41 871), we created modifiable risk scores (MRS; 0-6) for CD and UC based on established lifestyle risk factors, and healthy lifestyle scores (HLS; 0-9) derived from American healthy lifestyle recommendations. We calculated the population attributable risk by comparing the incidence of CD and UC between low-risk (CD-MRS≤1, UC-MRS≤2, HLS≥7) and high-risk groups. We externally validated our findings in three European cohorts: the Swedish Mammography Cohort (n=37 275), Cohort of Swedish Men (n=40 810) and European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (n=404 144). Results Over 5 117 021 person-years of follow-up (NHS, HPFS: 1986-2016; NHSII: 1991-2017), we documented 346 CD and 456 UC cases. Adherence to a low MRS could have prevented 42.9% (95% CI 12.2% to 66.1%) of CD and 44.4% (95% CI 9.0% to 69.8%) of UC cases. Similarly, adherence to a healthy lifestyle could have prevented 61.1% (95% CI 16.8% to 84.9%) of CD and 42.2% (95% CI 1.7% to 70.9%) of UC cases. In our validation cohorts, adherence to a low MRS and healthy lifestyle could have, respectively, prevented 43.9%-51.2% and 48.8%-60.4% of CD cases and 20.6%-27.8% and 46.8%-56.3% of UC cases. Conclusions Across six US and European cohorts, a substantial burden of inflammatory bowel diseases risk may be preventable through lifestyle modification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1100
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • crohn's disease
  • diet
  • epidemiology
  • ulcerative colitis


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