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 Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>