In a recent study at the Hospital for Sick Children in Canada, researchers compared the life expectancy of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and those without.
They found that, while life expectancy increased for both groups, people with IBD generally died sooner.
Patients may suffer from pain, which can negatively affect daily functioning.
The researchers say the good news is life expectancy has increased in people with IBD, but there is still a gap between people with and without the disease.
The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. One author is Dr. Eric Benchimol, a senior core scientist.
In the study, the team tested 32 818 people living with IBD in 1996 (matched to 163 284 people without IBD), increasing to 83 672 in 2011 (matched to 418 360 people without IBD).
They found in women with IBD, life expectancy increased by almost 3 years between 1996 (75.5 years) and 2011 (78.4 years).
Life expectancy among men with IBD increased by 3.2 years between 1996 and 2011, from 72.2 years to 75.5 years.
However, people with IBD had a consistently shorter life expectancy than those without IBD.
Women with IBD can expect to live between 6.6 years and 8.1 years less than women without IBD. Men with IBD can expect to live between 5.0 years and 6.1 years less than men without IBD.
When measuring health-adjusted life expectancy, a measure of how health-related symptoms and functioning affects both the quality of life and life expectancy, the gap between those with and without IBD was even greater.
Women with IBD have a health-adjusted life expectancy that is 9.5 to 13.5 years shorter than women without IBD.
Men with IBD have a health-adjusted life expectancy that is 2.6 to 6.7 years shorter than men without IBD.
The team also found patients with IBD often experience inflammation beyond the intestinal tract and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and other conditions.
They say scientists and doctors need to develop better pain-management strategies.
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