Can Crohn's Disease Kill You?

The mortality rate for sufferers of Crohn’s disease is relatively low, and as many with the disease will tell you, it is quite possible to live a long time with the condition.

What is of greater concern to many Crohn’s patients is quality of life, or the lifestyle a Crohn’s patient leads and what they will and won’t be able to do when they have it.

Crohn’s Statistics

  • It is estimated that about a million people in the United States suffer from IBD, and that half of those – 500,000 in case you’re not a mental math whiz – have Crohn’s. The other half are people who have Ulcerative Colitis, the second type of IBD.
  • Research in the United Kingdom has concluded that the annual mortality rate in Crohn’s disease was about 60%-70% higher than in the general population. This means that if the average person has a mortality rate (=chance of dying in a given year) is 1%, then Crohn’s patients have a chance of dying of 1.6%-1.7%
  • While this may seem high, the life expectancy of people suffering from Chrohn’s disease is only 2-3 years lower than that of the general population.
  • In parts of Europe, around 0.3 to 0.5% of people are thought to have Crohn’s.
  • People who smoke are believed to be more likely to get Crohn’s, and there is no noted preference between the number of males or females who contract the disease.
  • Crohn’s is slightly less common in people of African American heritage and slightly more common in people of Jewish descent.
  • About 1 in 5 people who have Crohn’s have a close family relative with some other form of IBD or IBS.
  • Onset of the disease occurs most commonly in people in their 20′s.

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Colon Cancer

Patients with Crohn’s disease have an increased risk for development of colon cancer. While this risk is greater than that of the average population, it is nonetheless believed in some medical circles to be slightly smaller than that in patients with crohn’s counterpart, ulcerative colitis.

Statistically speaking, Crohn’s patients are estimated to be between ten and twenty times more likely to get colon cancer at some point in their lifetime than the general population.

Colon cancer in Crohn’s patients does not always appear in the areas of the bowel that are most damaged; in some cases, cancer develops in sections of bowel that were minimally affected by the disease prior to its appearance.