It’s long been noted that an increase in consumption of red meat is associated with colon cancer in some individuals. Along with smoking, alcohol, and obesity, many gastrointestinal physicians have crossed red meat off the diets of patients with a higher genetic risk of developing the disease. Many believed the risks of consuming red meat stopped there, and through proper prevention, such as colonoscopies, their risk of colon cancer can be diminished greatly. Recently, the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) further studied the risks of consuming too much red meat and its effects on developing diverticulitis, a growing disease among the population.
Diverticulitis is a disabling colon problem accompanied most often by pain, obstruction and fever.
This condition became more common in the U.S. from the late 1990s to mid-2000s, a Minnesota county study suggests. Dr. Adil E. Bharucha of the Mayo Clinic claims incidents of diverticulitis have gone up 50 percent since 2000. The biggest increase is in the younger population, which causes alarm. Diverticula, the small pouches that develop along the large intestine, typically become more common with age and only become a problem when they become inflamed.
The BSG set out to examine the association between consumption of meat—total red meat, red unprocessed meat, poultry and fish—with the risk of diverticulitis among 46 of 461 enrolled men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up-Study (HPFS). The results were shocking: Red meat intake—particularly unprocessed red meat—was associated with an increased risk of diverticulitis. Higher consumption of poultry or fish, however, was not associated with an increased risk of diverticulitis. In fact, the substitution of poultry or fish for one serving of unprocessed red meat per day was associated with a decrease in the risk of diverticulitis.
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