Too Much Red Meat Might Hurt Your Bowels

Diverticulitis risk linked to high red meat consumption in men

(RxWiki News) Eating a lot of red meat might raise your risk for a common bowel condition called diverticulitis, according to a new study.

This study found that, compared to men who ate the least red meat, those who ate the most were 58 percent more likely to develop diverticulitis. Risk increased with the amount of red meat consumed and appeared to peak at six servings of red meat per week. The association was strongest for unprocessed red meat. The good news — substituting one portion of red meat per day with fish or poultry may lower the risk of diverticulitis by 20 percent. 

The researchers behind this study did not explore the reasons behind this link, but they did note that high red meat consumption has been previously linked with higher levels of inflammatory markers in the body, diabetes and heart disease. 

These researchers also noted that red meat may alter the bacteria present in the gut, which could have an effect.

Diverticulitis is the inflammation of small pockets or bulges in the lining of the intestine. It is tied to more than 200,000 hospital admission each year in the United States, according to a press release about this study. Symptoms include stomach pain, bloating, cramping, constipation, loss of appetite, chills and others.

Diverticulitis cases have been on the rise, according to the press release.

This study looked at nearly 46,500 men between the ages of 45 and 75 from 1986 to 2012. These findings may not be applicable to women, these researchers noted.

Talk to your doctor before making any major dietary changes.

This study was published in the British Medical Journal Gut.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health funded this research. One study author was previously a consultant to pharmaceutical companies for work unrelated to this study.