- Inflammatory bowel diseases are generally diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 30, according to Inserm.
- 15% of cases concern children.
“To our knowledge, this is the first large population-based study that demonstrates a higher prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease in men who engage in high-risk same-sex sexual activity.“explains Emad Mansoor, lead author of a study that has just been published in the journal Gut.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
In their work, researchers define high-risk sexual activity as having unprotected sex and having multiple partners. Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These are characterized by inflammation of the wall of part of the digestive tract, due to a deregulation of the immune system.
To conduct their experiment, the scientists analyzed the health data of patients followed in health structures in the United States between 2002 and 2022. Thus, they observed that in male patients who had been diagnosed with high sexual activity risk between people of the same sex, 0.8% suffered from Crohn’s disease and 1.26% from ulcerative colitis.
2 times more likely to have inflammatory bowel disease
Among heterosexual men who had high-risk sexual activities, the percentages were lower: 0.49% had Crohn’s disease and 0.52% had ulcerative colitis. In other words, homosexual men would be twice as likely as heterosexual men, all having risky sexual activity.
In addition, scientists have also observed that homosexual men who had high-risk sexual activities were more likely to have other health problems such as a perianal or rectal abscess, i.e. an accumulation of pus caused by bacteria.
More risk of having a partial colectomy
Finally, among homosexual men who presented with severe manifestations of ulcerative colitis, those who engaged in high-risk sexual activities between people of the same sex were more at risk of having a partial colectomy, that is to say a removal of part of the colon.
“Our study should open a new field of research on gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions”, believes Emad Mansoor. Indeed, better understanding the risk of developing an inflammatory bowel disease in homosexual men could allow better prevention. “Investigating the cause of inflammatory bowel disease in this underrepresented patient population compared to other patient groups will allow us to investigate the cause of disease development in patients with IBD. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and develop personalized precision medicine and treatment strategies, while reducing stigma”, concludes Fabio Cominelli, one of the authors.