Several studies have shown that cigarette smoking affects duodenal ulcer (DU) recurrence. To verify any correlation between smoking and complications of ulcer disease, we studied 33 DU smokers, 16 DU ex-smokers and 87 DU non-smokers for up to 48 months, recording age, sex, family history of ulcer, ulcer symptoms, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use, length of DU history, alcohol consumption, smoking habit, relapses and bleeding episodes. Nicotine contents were also obtained for the type of cigarettes smoked. Statistics used were: Analysis of variance with Bonferroni's test. Pearson's chi-squared test and stepwise logistic regression analysis. Smokers were found to have significantly more relapses but fewer bleeding episodes than ex-smokers and non-smokers (63.3%, 31.2% and 34.5%, p = 0.029; 12.1%, 43.7% and 34.5%, p = 0.017). Bleeders were significantly more often males than non-bleeders (82.9% vs. 61.0%, p = 0.01) and had ulcer symptoms less frequently (9.7% vs. 26.3%, p = 0.02). Multivariate analysis confirmed sex as a risk factor (OR = 3.0) and smoking as a "protective" factor (OR = 0.4) for bleeding, while nicotine intake was found to be unrelated to this complication. We concluded that smoking (but not nicotine intake) and male sex are factors to take into account in evaluating the risk of DU bleeding.
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