On-Going Harvard/BWH Studies of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease in Northport, WA Residents
Between 2008 – 2010 The Northport Project conducted a Community Health Survey of past and present Northport residents. The results, reported in 2011, showed health clusters of multiple illnesses.
The reported cases of Northport residents diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease caught the attention of the medical community. Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease are very rare Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and there is no known cause or cure for either.
In 2012 Dr. Korzenik, director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) contacted us about conducting a study of the area. With the assistance of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Korzenik and his team designed their own community survey, along with collecting medical history to confirm all reported cases of Crohn’s and Colitis. 119 Northport residents participated in the survey, 17 had confirmed cases of either Crohn’s or colitis. “That’s about 10 to 15 times what we’d expect to see in a population the size of Northport,” said Korzenik, one of the leading IBD researchers in the country. “I’m not aware of any other cluster like it.”
Based on their findings Dr. Korzenik designed a second study of the area. This second study began in November, 2016. It is a more in-depth epidemiological case-control study. By obtaining the levels of accumulated toxins (arsenic, cadmium and lead in particular) in both the diagnosed residents and non-diagnosed residents, Dr. Korzenik and his team will have a clearer understanding of the role multiple routes of chronic exposure to specific levels of certain heavy metal toxins play in triggering the onset of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease.
These inflammatory bowel diseases have perplexed the medical community for decades. Discovering the cause, or contributing factors, to these diseases is one step closer to finding a cure, or at the very least better treatment options.
To be eligible for this study you must currently be a Northport resident. However, future studies are being discussed that will include past and present Northport residents. If you have either Crohn’s or Colitis and ever lived in or near Northport, WA please e-mail Dr. Korzenik’s colleague Ami at: IBDresearch@bwh.harvard.edu or 617-732-9173.