People with gut conditions such as Crohn’s disease have double the risk of dementia, according to new study.
The researchers said that the study adds to a growing body of evidence of “reciprocal communication” between the gut and the nervous system – called the “gut-brain axis.”
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease which together affect around 500,000 people in the UK.
The results of the study, published in the journal Gut, found that those with IBD are also likely to be diagnosed with dementia earlier in their lives.
“We found increased risk of dementia following the diagnosis of IBD, with the average age of onset seven years younger compared with matched controls,” the authors wrote.
“Vigilance and education for dementia among elderly patients with IBD may improve early intervention to slow cognitive decline and improve quality of life.”
The Tiwanese researchers used national database records and compared more than 18,000 patients, including 1,742 with the bowel disease.
Tracking participants for 16 years, they found that just 1.4 per cent of patients went on to develop dementia, compared with 5.5 per cent of patients with gut conditions.
Despite steps in understanding the relationship between the conditions such as Crohns and illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimers, the cause and effect relationship between the two remains elusive to scientists.