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What causes ulcerative colitis (UC)?

What causes ulcerative colitis (UC) is not known. What is known for sure is that people are more likely to get UC if someone else in the family has it.

We can learn a lot by considering why doesn’t everyone have IBD?  Everyone experiences inflammation in the intestines at one time or another because this protects the GI tract from infection.  For example, if you swallowed food that had harmful bacteria on it, your GI tract would mount an attack (that causes inflammation) so that you can fight off bacterial infection.  Normally, the immune system will turn off this inflammatory response once the need for inflammation is over. This is called “controlled inflammation.” However, people with IBD do not have this control mechanism and the inflammatory response does not shut off.

The exact reason why this response does not shut off is unclear, but researchers believe that IBD results from an environmental trigger (like a bacteria) in a genetically susceptible person that leads to ongoing uncontrolled inflammation in the GI tract.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.