Meat, fish protein linked to women's bowel disease

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Eating lots of animal protein appears to amplify women’s risk of increasing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a new study from France.

Their effects may help better understand the role of diet in IBD risk, said Dr. Franck Carbonnel of the Center Hospitalier Universitaire de Bicetre in Paris and his group write in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. If established, they can lead to protective strategies, particularly in families at risk of IBD, and probably to recommend for preventing relapse.

Inflammatory bowel disease is a collective term for diseases characterized by severe inflammation in the digestive system such as ulcerative colitis, which characteristically only affects the colon, and Crohn’s disease, which can attack the entire digestive tract. IBD, which affects about one in 500 people, has become much more common since World War II, Carbonnel and his colleagues note. The reasons behind the increase are still uncertain.

To investigate whether diet might be a reason; the researchers followed more than 67,000 women participating in a long-term study of risk factors for cancer and other common diseases. The women were 40 to 65 years old when they enrolled in the study.

HDuring follow-up, which averaged about 10 years, just 77 of the women developed inflammatory bowel disease. Ninety percent of women in the current study were eating more than the suggested dietary allowance of protein.

Women who consumed the most protein were at more than triple the risk of being diagnosed with IBD, the researchers found; animal protein accounted for most of the risk. Risk was particularly connected with high intake of meat and fish, but not with dairy products or eggs.

Meat could contribute to inflammatory bowel disease risk for the reason that digestion of animal protein produces many potentially toxic “end products,” such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, the researchers note. Also, Carbonnel pointed out, a high-protein diet could alter the mix of bacteria that live in the colon.These findings have to be recognized in other populations, mainly in men and younger subjects, the researcher said, adding that if they are confirmed, the next step would be to conduct a trial comparing the effects of restricted versus unrestricted animal protein on inflammatory bowel disease risk.

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