Scientists from the Center of Excellence Center for Molecular Prediction of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (PREDICT) have published a study that shows that patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) had a 33% increased risk of developing genital warts compared to individuals without IBD. They further found that the risk was highest in women.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), commonly diagnosed as either Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC), is an immune-mediated inflammatory disorder of the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract that affects millions of people worldwide and over 50,000 people in Denmark alone. IBD patients suffer from a range of symptoms due to inflammation, which can affect any part of the bowel and vary in severity. IBD sufferers are also at increased risk of multiple complications and co-morbidities. Among these is an increased risk of human papillomavirus- (HPV) associated cancers, including cervical and anal squamous cell carcinomas.
The study used the Danish National Patient Registry (NPR) as a starting point. Using the NPR, the scientists identified all individuals over 18 years of age diagnosed with IBD from January 1996 to January 2019 and included them in the analysis. To generate a cohort for comparison, the study randomly selected individuals from the Civil Registration System who had no previous history of IBD.
In particular, the researchers were looking for answers to whether the increased risk of genital warts in patients with inflammatory bowel disease is due to the fact that intestinal inflammation is often treated with immunosuppressive drugs that weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infection.
The results from the study indicate that this is not the whole story. The researchers found that patients who did not receive anti-inflammatory treatment had a 33% increased risk of genital warts, while patients treated with mild anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids had a 19% increased risk of genital warts. This suggests that chronic and uncontrolled intestinal inflammation itself can increase the risk of genital warts.