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Global study on IBD underway
Researchers are looking at a link between industrialization and IBD.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is on the rise around the world and now a group of health investigators in the city are looking to find out why.
Dr. Gil Kaplan is one of 36 IBD specialists in Alberta and he is trying to find out why the disease is impacting so many people in developed countries.
Researchers say they typically see more incidents of Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis, which are classified as IBD illnesses, in Canada, the United States and Europe.
They are looking at a link between industrialization and IBD.
Dr. Kaplan says the Alberta IBD Consortium is looking at environmental factors that may be leading to more cases of IBD.
"Where do we need to go next? Identify the key gaps and that will then focus us on the right research that will lead us down the road and be able to eventually have better diagnosis, better therapeutics, and hopefully prevent the disease all together," said Dr. Kaplan.
Another theory they are investigating is whether a lack of Vitamin D increases the incidence of the disease in areas that get less sunlight, like Canada.
Dr. Kaplan says Canadians tend to stay indoors when it is cold out and don't get as much sun light as countries with warmer climates.
Mark Rievaj has suffered from Crohn's for the last ten years and is one of Dr. Kaplan's patients.
"I think it's just a problem in Alberta and Canada and a lot of the industrialized countries that is just going to keep increasing until we can get a handle on what is causing it," said Rievaj.
Researchers say in the last ten years they've identified over 100 genes that can make people susceptible to Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
People between the ages of 20 and 40 have the highest incidence of IBD and the disease occurs equally in females and males.
Funding for the consortium comes through Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions, and Alberta Health and Wellness.
The study's findings were published in the American Gastroenterological Association Journal.