RISKS HIDDEN BEHIND THE INCREASED CONSUMPTION OF RED MEAT
People who eat too much red meat, especially untreated, are more likely to develop a common inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, according to a new American scientific research.
Replacing red meat with poultry or fish may reduce the risk, according to the study.
The diverticulitis has been increasing in recent years, especially among younger people. Approximately 4% of patients have severe or long-term complications.
Relatively little is known about the causes of the disease, which has been associated with smoking, the use of NSAIDs, physical inactivity and obesity. The dietary factors that increase the risk have not been sufficiently studied to date, something the new study is trying to do.
Researchers, led by epidemiologist Andrew Chan of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who published the journal Gut (Gut), analyzed data on 46,500 men aged 40 to 75, of whom 764 showed diverticulitis at a depth of 26 years, correlating the usual dietary habits with the likelihood of the disease occurring.
It was found that those who ate most red meat also tended to use NSAIDs more frequently, to smoke more and to exercise less. On the other hand, those who ate more poultry and fish meat smoked less, exercised more and took more aspirin than NSAIDs.
Eventually, the researchers concluded that those men who had the highest consumption of red meat had the highest (58%) risk of diverticulitis. The risk was greater for those who ate almost every day red meat (six servings a week) and for those who ate mostly fresh untreated meat. Age and weight did not seem to play a role.
Scientists are not yet sure how red meat is associated with diverticulitis, so they stressed the need for further research. Other studies in the past have, however, shown that increased consumption of red meat is associated with increased presence of inflammatory chemicals, such as C-reactive protein.
It is also not excluded in the biological mechanism that bacteria living in the human intestine are involved. Increased consumption of red meat alters the composition of the intestinal microbe and this, in turn, may have implications for the intestine, favoring the development of the discolouration (projections of the colon wall that look like follicles).