Inflammatory Bowel Disease | Causes & Risk Factors

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What causes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis?

It is not yet known exactly what causes these inflammatory bowel diseases. These diseases seem to run in families, which means that genetics may play a role. Many researchers believe that inflammatory bowel diseases are caused by a problem with the immune system. Normally, the immune system protects your body from infection. In people who have an inflammatory bowel disease, the immune system mistakes food, healthy bacteria, and other substances for an infection. This causes the immune system to attack the cells of the intestine, which leads to inflammation.

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Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 01/98

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