Crohn's disease - Minimising risk / Prevention

The causes of Crohn's disease are complex. The development of this condition probably results from multiple interacting factors that may include genetics, ethnic origin, the geographical region in which you live and other environmental factors that are, as yet, not fully understood.

Not enough is yet known about the exact causes to offer extensive advice on ways to minimise the risk of developing this condition.


Smoking is known to increase the risk of developing Crohn's disease. In addition, people with Crohn's disease who smoke suffer more flare-upsTerm to describe episodes when the symptoms of a condition worsen., need more drugs to manage their condition and have a greater chance of developing complications such as strictures, sections of narrowing of the intestineThe section of gut, or gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the anus..

Smokers with Crohn's are also more likely to need surgery and, if they carry on smoking, to relapse after surgery compared with non-smokers. Stopping smoking greatly reduces the risk of complications.


Some doctors believe that reducing the intake of certain foods, such as meat and foods high in fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. and sugar, may lower a person's risk for developing Crohn's disease. A diet high in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, fish, and fibre may also reduce this risk. There is ongoing research on the influence of diet on the development of Crohn's disease.

See the practical help page, Nutrition in IBD.