FRIDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a high-fiber diet
does not lower a person's risk of diverticulosis, but a low-fiber
diet might, according to a new study that contradicts what doctors
have believed for decades.
Diverticulosis is a disease of the intestines in which pouches
develop in the colon wall.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina School of
Medicine analyzed data from more than 2,100 patients, aged 30 to
80, who underwent outpatient colonoscopy between 1998 and 2010. The
patients were interviewed about their diet, bowel movements and
level of physical activity.
Patients with the lowest fiber intake were 30 percent less
likely to develop diverticulosis than those with the highest
intake, according to the study published in the February issue of
The findings also showed that constipation was not a risk factor
and that having more frequent bowel movements was linked to an
increased risk. Those with more than 15 bowel movements a week were
70 percent more likely to develop diverticulosis than those with
fewer than seven bowel movements a week, the investigators
However, while the study uncovered an association between fiber
consumption, bowel movements and diverticulosis risk, it did not
prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
In addition, no association was seen between diverticulosis and
physical inactivity or intake of fat or red meat.
"While it is too early to tell patients what to do differently, these results are exciting for researchers," study lead researcher Dr. Anne Peery, a fellow in the gastroenterology and hepatology division, said in a university news release. "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 U.S. adults older than
60, according to the news release. Most cases don't cause symptoms,
but the condition can cause complications such as bleeding,
infections, intestinal perforations and even death.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases has more about
diverticulosis and diverticulitis.