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Ulcerative Colitis Statistics

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease in which the inner surface of the rectum and colon (part of the large intestine) become inflamed. It has no known cause. UC is a chronic disorder, meaning symptoms flare up and go into remission many times throughout a person’s life. About 750,000 people in North America are living with ulcerative colitis.1

UC affects between 40 and 240 people per 100,000, meaning it is a relatively uncommon condition.1 People with a close family member with ulcerative colitis are between 1 and 30 percent more likely to also develop UC.2,3

The demographics of ulcerative colitis

Race and ethnicity

Inflammatory bowel disease affects people of all racial and ethnic groups. It is found more often in North America and western Europe than in other parts of the world. It is more common in Caucasians and people of eastern and central European (Ashkenazi) Jewish descent than other demographic groups.
It is less common in African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans. However, racial and ethnic gaps are closing.4

Age

Most people are diagnosed with UC between ages 15 and 35, but the condition can develop at any age.1 Some people experience their first symptoms between ages 50 and 70, or in the first year of life.2

Ulcerative colitis is rare in children younger than 8 and tends to be more severe than in adults. UC can delay puberty and impact final adult height.4

Gender

Ulcerative colitis affects males and females equally, but men are more likely to be diagnosed with UC in their 50s and 60s than women.2-6

Income

UC is found more often in people with lower incomes and less education.4

Smokers

UC is more common among people who have stopped smoking or who never smoked.4

Geography

Inflammatory bowel disease is more common in general in industrialized countries than in developing countries, and in northern parts of these countries than the southern regions. It is also more common in cities than in rural communities, and in people with white-collar jobs. Rates of the disease are increasing worldwide. The countries with the highest rates of UC are the U.S., Denmark and Iceland.1-7

These facts lead researchers to believe that a western lifestyle plays a role in ulcerative colitis, such as diet, smoking, sunlight exposure, pollution and industrial chemicals.4

Costs of ulcerative colitis

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that hospitalization rates increased dramatically between 2003 and 2013, with a mean (average) cost per hospital stay of $13,412 for UC.5

Severity of ulcerative colitis

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis tend to come and go throughout a person’s life. In fact, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation estimates that during the year:

  • 48 percent are in remission
  • 30 percent face mild disease
  • 20 percent face moderate disease
  • 1 percent to 2 percent have severe disease

Also, 70 percent of those with active UC will go through another episode the following year. Thirty percent of those in remission in a given year will live through a flare in the next year. This means that the longer a person with UC stays in remission, the less likely they will have flares.6

Poll

Written by: Anna Nicholson & Jessica Johns Pool | Last Reviewed: September 2019.
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Ulcerative colitis. Available at: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/ulcerative-colitis. Accessed August 27, 2019.
  2. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Available at: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/ulcerative-colitis. Accessed August 27, 2019.
  3. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Overview of Ulcerative Colitis. Available at: https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/what-is-ulcerative-colitis/overview. Accessed August 27, 2019.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology of the IBD. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/ibd-epidemiology.htm. Accessed August 27, 2019.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data and Statistics Inflammatory Bowel Disease Prevalence (IBD) in the United States. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ibd/data-statistics.htm. Accessed August 27, 2019.
  6. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Facts and Statistics About Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Available at: https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/pdfs/updatedibdfactbook.pdf Accessed August 27, 2019.
  7. MedlinePlus. Ulcerative Colitis. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ulcerativecolitis.html#cat_79. Accessed August 27, 2019.