Low-dose smoking resumption in ex-smokers with refractory ulcerative colitis

Emma Calabrese, Henit Yanai, Dmitry Shuster, David T. Rubin, Stephen B. Hanauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aim: Ulcerative colitis (UC) is primarily a disease of non-smokers. Ex-smokers may have a more refractory disease course and anecdotal evidence in non-controlled clinical trials have suggested that smoking resumption, or the administration of nicotine, may ameliorate signs and symptoms of UC in ex-smokers. We report outcomes of ex-smokers with refractory UC who resumed low-dose cigarette smoking. Methods: 17 ex-smokers with refractory UC were identified. Clinical remission was defined as a disease activity index score of 0. Results: Two out of 17 patients refused the recommendation to resume smoking. Of the 15 patients who resumed smoking, the mean daily number of cigarettes was 8.6. Fourteen out of those 15 patients who resumed smoking were able to maintain prolonged clinical remission off steroids. One out of the 15 patients failed to improve and required oral steroids. Another patient was compelled to quit smoking since he became addicted. His disease flared after maintaining a prolonged remission of 3. years and he eventually underwent surgery. Three out of these 15 patients switched from cigarettes smoking to nicotine compounds and continued to maintain remission. Conclusion: Resumption of low dose smoking in a selected group of ex-smokers with refractory UC may ameliorate signs and symptoms. Quality of life, medication side effects, and smoking risk factors should all be considered and discussed with patients. Smokers should be meticulously followed for compliance with "low-dose" regimen and all associated smoking risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-762
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Crohn's and Colitis
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Smoking
  • Ulcerative colitis


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