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Gay men at double the risk of inflammatory bowel disease than straight men

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – According to a new study published in the medical journal Gut, gay men are twice as likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel disease compared to straight men. 

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is diagnosed based on symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Examples of irritable bowel disease include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. 

In the largest population study of its kind scientists at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio looked at patient records from 58 U.S. databases between 2002 and 2020. They found gay men who engage in risky sexual behavior are at double the risk of IBD compared to straight men who engage in equally risky sexual behavior. Researchers defined risky behavior as sexual contact without barrier protection as well as having multiple partners. 

“Studying the cause of IBD in this underrepresented patient population in comparison to other patient groups will allow us to further investigate the cause of the disease and ulcerative colitis patients and develop personalized precision medicine and treatment strategies, while also reducing stigma,” study author, Dr. Fabio Cominellis, writes in a statement

While scientists can’t say exactly what the connection is, they do suggest gay men may be more susceptible to imbalances in helpful and harmful gut microbes.