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Dig Dis Sci. 2011 Apr;56(4):1154-9. doi: 10.1007/s10620-010-1403-2. Epub 2010 Sep 16.

Increasing incidence of inflammatory bowel disease among young men in Korea between 2003 and 2008.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Temporal trends in incidence rates of Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) can provide valuable clues about etiology. Korea has a draft system, and every male must fulfill his military service. However, according to military rules, patients with CD and UC are not conscripted into the army, and when the disease is diagnosed during military service, patients are relieved from military duties. Such policies provide a unique opportunity to determine the incidence of CD and UC among young men in Korea. We studied the incidence of CD and UC over time in Korea, a rapidly developing country.


The Armed Forces Medical Command of the Republic of Korea Army provided lists of members who were relieved from military duties due to diagnoses of CD and UC between 2003 and 2008.


During this 6-year period, there were 96 incident cases of CD and 104 incident cases of UC. For the 6-year period, the adjusted mean annual incidence rates of CD and UC per 100,000 persons were 3.2 and 3.5, respectively. When analyzed by 2-year intervals, the mean annual incidence of CD and UC increased, from 1.8 and 1.7 per 100,000 persons in 2003-2004, to 2.7 and 3.3 per 100,000 persons in 2005-2006, and to 5.1 and 5.4 per 100,000 persons in 2007-2008, respectively.


Incidence of CD and UC among young men is rapidly increasing in Korea, which strongly suggests an environmental contribution to the disease.

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