Researchers involved in an important new study are warning that women taking popular birth control pills may face an increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by chronic diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems. In their findings, the researchers indicate that women using oral contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies have a three-times increased risk of developing the intestinal disease, and an even higher risk if they’ve used the birth control pills for more than five years. If you believe you have been adversely affected by side effects of oral contraceptives, contact an experienced attorney today for legal help.
Crohn’s disease is an incurable gastrointestinal disease that stems from inflammation of the lining and wall of the large or small intestine. In some cases, the lining can become so inflamed it may bleed, and the disease can also result in other problems, like anemia, difficulty digesting food, diarrhea and fatigue. Ulcerative colitis is a disease of the colon, large intestine and rectum, and causes symptoms like rectal bleeding, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Inflammatory bowel disease, an umbrella condition that includes both Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, results in symptoms like fever, joint pain, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, rectal bleeding, fatigue and loss of appetite.
In the oral contraceptives study, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reviewed data from the U.S. Nurses Health Studies I and II, which followed women from 1976 and 2008, and presented their findings at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in San Diego. The first part of the study involved more than 233,000 young women, and the researchers identified 309 cases of Crohn’s disease and 362 cases of ulcerative colitis, another type of inflammatory bowel disease. According to their findings, women who used oral contraceptives had a higher risk of developing Crohn’s disease when compared to women who didn’t used the medications, but didn’t have a higher risk of ulcerative colitis.
In the second part of the same study, led by Harvard University gastroenterologist Dr. Hamed Khalil, the researchers also found a connection between digestive problems in older women and hormone replacement therapy, although Khalil stressed that the link between birth control pills and Crohn’s disease is the most relevant of the two issues, especially for younger women who use the drugs for long periods of time. According to the study authors, some women may want to consider an alternative method of birth control, especially if their family history indicates a predisposition to digestive diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease.
Birth control pills are the most widely used form of contraceptive in the United States, and the researchers involved in this new study are warning that younger women using the pills need to be made aware of the increased risk of Crohn’s disease and other digestive problems, especially those with a family history of inflammatory bowel disease. If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or another serious gastrointestinal problem, and you believe an oral contraceptive to be the cause, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help put you in touch with an experienced product liability lawyer today.