Harvard researchers link diverticulitis to red meat

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Published: April, 2017

Red meat is associated with an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Now, a study published online Jan. 9, 2017, by the journal Gut suggests that eating red meat is associated with an increased risk for developing diverticulitis. This occurs when tiny pouches in the wall of the large intestine become inflamed, potentially causing cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and even rectal bleeding. We don't really know what causes diverticulitis, so researchers explored possible dietary links. They analyzed health and diet information reported by more than 46,000 men (ages 40 to 75) over 26 years. Men who ate the most red meat per week (about 13 servings) were 58% more likely to develop diverticulitis during the study period, compared with men who ate the least red meat per week (1.2 servings). The association was strongest for unprocessed red meat like steak. However, the risk for developing diverticulitis was 20% lower when people in the study substituted poultry or fish for a serving of unprocessed red meat each day. The findings don't prove that red meat causes diverticulitis, but other studies have suggested red meat may be a factor in diverticular disease.

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