On May 23rd, Dr. William Turpin gave a media interview while attending the annual Digestive Disease Week in San Diego.
He discussed the results of a new study which researched environmental exposures and their association with Crohn's disease (an inflammatory bowel disease). The researchers studied 4289 healthy first degree relatives of people diagnosed with Chron's. They followed the subjects for about 6 years and discovered that 86 people got Crohn's disease.
This study looked at kids between the ages of 2 and 4years old, and it was discovered that kids in that age bracket who had a dog were 37% less likely to have Crohn's.
Another finding in the study was that kids who lived with at least three other family members during the first year of their life were 64% less likely to have this disease.
Now, to be sure, this study is not stating there are any causal links here, but they are suggesting that these factors may be inhibitory or contributory in relation to the disease.
The researcher's in this study also looked at things like living on a farm, drinking unpasteurized milk or well water, and growing up with a cat. These factors did not have a significant link with higher risk.
The researchers hypothesized that living with a dog provided certain bacterial exposures that helped to strengthen a person's immune system agains't future challenges. This thought was supported when they performed some targeted genetic sequencing of gut bacteria and found differences in bacteria between the groups (those with dogs and those without).
This study certainly needs to be replicated to see if the original findings hold up with repeated studies.
Autoimmune diseases are complex and sometimes difficult to diagnose and to treat. If you think you may have Chron's disease, there are a number of tests that need to be performed to help diagnose it. You should contact your medical provider right away.
We here at Ministry Medicine International will be glad to help in any way that we can if you reach out to us. We will be happy to guide you and offer what assistance / information that we can.