There are many misconceptions about ulcerative colitis (UC). Myths include that UC symptoms start in childhood, that there’s only one cause for UC and that treatment options for UC are limited. “Since UC symptoms are due to a dysregulation of the inflammatory response, the question is what determines that dysregulation,” says Jan M. Novak, MD
, emeritus clinical professor of medicine
. “We know that the immune system is genetically predetermined and that the people that have inflammatory bowel disease largely inherit a genetic predisposition, which is then modified by their environment.” Currently, however, there isn’t one identifiable gene that causes UC. “This looks different from, say, cystic fibrosis where there is a genetic defect,” says Novak.