Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Diets high in fiber won't protect against diverticulosis

UNC researchers challenge commonly-held beliefs about the causes of a major intestinal disease

For more than 40 years, scientists and physicians have thought eating a high-fiber diet lowered a person's risk of diverticulosis, a disease of the large intestine in which pouches develop in the colon wall. A new study of more than 2,000 people reveals the opposite may be true.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine , found that consuming a diet high in fiber raised, rather than lowered, the risk of developing diverticulosis. The findings also counter the commonly-held belief that constipation increases a person's risk of the disease.

"Despite the significant morbidity and mortality of symptomatic diverticulosis, it looks like we may have been wrong, for decades, about why diverticula actually form," said Anne Peery, MD, a fellow in the gastroenterology and hepatology division at UNC and the study's lead researcher. The study appears in the February 2012 issue of the journal Gastroenterology.

"While it is too early to tell patients what to do differently, these results are exciting for researchers," said Peery. "Figuring out that we don't know something gives us the opportunity to look at disease processes in new ways."

Diverticulosis affects about one-third of adults over age 60 in the United States. Although most cases are asymptomatic, when complications develop they can be severe, resulting in infections, bleeding, intestinal perforations and even death. Health care associated with such complications costs an estimated $2.5 billion per year.

Since the late 1960s, doctors have recommended a high-fiber diet to regulate bowel movements and reduce the risk of diverticulosis. This recommendation is based on the idea that a low fiber diet will cause constipation and in turn generate diverticula as a result of increased pressure in the colon. However, few studies have been conducted to back up that assumption. "Our findings dispute commonly-held beliefs because asymptomatic diverticulosis has never been rigorously studied," said Peery.

The UNC study is based on data from 2,104 patients aged 30-80 years who underwent outpatient colonoscopy at UNC Hospitals from 1998-2010. Participants were interviewed about their diet, bowel movements and level of physical activity.

"We were surprised to find that a low-fiber diet was not associated with a higher prevalence of asymptomatic diverticulosis," said Peery. In fact, the study found those with the lowest fiber intake were 30 percent less likely to develop diverticula than those with the highest fiber intake.

The study also found constipation was not a risk factor and that having more frequent bowel movements actually increased a person's risk. Compared to those with fewer than seven bowel movements per week, individuals with more than 15 bowel movements per week were 70 percent more likely to develop diverticulosis.

The study found no association between diverticulosis and physical inactivity, intake of fat, or intake of red meat. The disease's causes remain unknown, but the researchers believe gut flora may play a role.

Peery said more research is needed before doctors change dietary recommendations, but the study offers valuable insights on diverticulosis risk factors. "At this time, we cannot predict who will develop a complication, but if we can better understand why asymptomatic diverticula form we can potentially reduce the population at risk for symptomatic disease," said Peery.

UNC co-authors include Patrick Barrett, Doyun Park (currently at Albert Einstein College of Medicine), Albert Rogers, Joseph Galanko, Christopher Martin and Robert Sandler, gastroenterology & hepatology division chair. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Les Lang | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>