New BWH/Harvard Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis study on Northport residents underway; VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
In 2011 the results of a community lead health survey conducted in Northport, WA caught the attention of Dr. Josh Korzenik, the Director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Through BWH, one of Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospital, his team conducted their own survey of current and former Northport residents to investigate the possibility of a health cluster of resident’s diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Of the 119 participants, 17 had confirmed cases of either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. According to Dr. Korzenik “That’s about 10 to 15 times what we’d expect to see in a population the size of Northport.” This confirmed his suspicion of a health cluster, (an unusually high occurrence of a disease or illness diagnosed in a group of people in close proximity of time and location.)
The causes, and a cure, for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have long baffled the scientific community. Therefore, the discovery of this cluster could provide researchers and the medical community with an invaluable opportunity to better understand if environmental factors cause or trigger the diseases.
Northport’s historical exposure to specific heavy metal toxins, from the air emissions and solid discharges from a Canadian smelter located 3 miles up river, Teck Resources, may be a contributing factor to the abnormally high cases of of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease diagnosed in residents.
Dr. Korzenik is moving forward with an epidemiological study of a correlation to chronic exposure to heavy metals and diagnosed cases of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Dr. Korzenik and his team are currently preparing their Institutional Review Board (IRB) to move forward with this study. To conduct an accurate study he will need residents diagnosed with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, as well as a control group of residents who do not have these illnesses.
The IRB process takes 1-2 months to complete. In preparation for the study we are reaching out to the community to ask for volunteers to participate in this study. Both impacted and non-impacted residents are needed. The process to participate will be easy, a kit being sent to each participate, all of which can be done from home and sent back to Dr. Korzenik, free of charge. The results of your participation will be invaluable, providing information that could lead to discovering the cause, and possibly even a cure, to these debilitating illnesses.