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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Prevention

There is no way to prevent ulcerative colitis.

However, some people are able to decrease the frequency of symptoms. They do this by avoiding foods that seem to provoke flare-ups. For some people with ulcerative colitis, this includes spicy foods and milk products.

If you have ulcerative colitis, you can decrease the toll it takes on your body. To do this, eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Store up vitamins and nutrients, even between symptomatic episodes. By doing so, you can decrease complications from malnutrition, such as weight loss or a low blood count.

Ulcerative colitis increases your risk of colon cancer. People with extensive inflammation in the whole colon have the highest risk. It is important to have your colon checked frequently for early signs of cancer. Ask your doctor how often you should have a colonoscopy.

Poor nutrition or the effect of colitis medicines can lead to osteoporosis. This disease weakens bones and can cause bones to break. Osteoporosis can be prevented with medicines, adequate exercise, calcium and vitamin D. If you have ulcerative colitis, discuss osteoporosis with your doctor.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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