High dietary red meat intake linked to diverticulitis

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Substituting one portion of processed red meat with poultry or fish each day may reduce the risk of diverticulitis.

So conclude the authors of a new study, published in Gut, which has identified a link between red meat intake and an increased risk of diverticulitis.

As part of their study, the research team assessed the potential impact of total dietary red meat, poultry, and fish intake on the risk of developing diverticulitis in nearly 46,500 men, taking part in the Health Professionals Follow up Study. During the 26-year monitoring period, some 764 men developed diverticulitis.

The researchers found that compared with those with the lowest levels of consumption, the highest level of red meat intake was associated with a 58 per cent heightened risk of developing diverticulitis, with each daily serving associated with an 18 per cent increased risk. Risk peaked at six servings a week.

The authors said the mechanisms underlying the observed associations require further investigation, but that chronic low grade systemic inflammation may be an essential step, noting that higher red meat consumption has been linked to the presence of inflammatory biomarkers as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.