Ulcerative colitis is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the lining of the large intestine. The ulcers can bleed, and cause mucus and pus to be discharged from the rectum. If inflammation affects only the rectum it is known as proctitis.
It affects about 1 in 500 people in the UK, with between 6,000- 12,000 people being diagnosed annually. Both men and women are equally be affected by ulcerative colitis and it is more common in white Europeans, and less common in people of Asian descent.
It is believed that an abnormal immune response is responsible for the inflammation that occurs in ulcerative colitis but it is not understood what actually triggers this to happen. There is a higher chance of developing ulcerative colitis if there is a close family blood relation who also suffers from the condition. Ulcerative colitis is relatively uncommon in Asian populations compared with Europe and North America. This suggests that an environmental factor, such as diet, may also be important.
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