Inflammatory bowel disease may be linked to increased risk of dementia

Research suggests that people who have inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to develop dementia later in life, and at a younger age, than people who do not.

Old man with IBD

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have a significantly higher risk of developing dementia later in life, a study in Gut has suggested (23 June 2020)[1]

In a population-based cohort study, researchers performed a comparative analysis of 1,742 patients diagnosed with IBD between 1998 and 2011, aged 45 years or older and without prior dementia, against 17,420 controls.

During the follow-up period (from enrolment to 31 December 2013 or death) the researchers found that overall incidence of dementia in the IBD cohort was 5.5% compared with 1.4% in the control group. People with IBD were also diagnosed with dementia at a younger age, on average, than the control group (76.2 years vs. 83.5 years).

They calculated that the hazard ratio of developing dementia among patients with IBD was 2.54 (95% confidence interval 1.91–3.37). Among dementia types, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was the greatest.

The researchers said the findings suggest the roles of the gut-brain axis and chronic inflammation in progressive neurocognitive degeneration. They highlighted the need for further research to investigate the relationship between IBD and dementia.

“Vigilance and education for dementia among elderly patients with IBD may improve early intervention to slow cognitive decline and improve quality of life,” they added.


[1] Zhang B, Wang H, Bai Y-M, et al. Gut 2020;0:1–7. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2020-320789

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ July 2020, Vol 305, No 7939;305(7939):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20208113

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