Digestive Health Watch

Published Online: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oleic Acid Reduces Risk of Developing Ulcerative Colitis
A new study presented at the conference Digestive Disease Week 2010 found that individuals with the highest intake of oleic acid—a monounsaturated fatty acid in olive, grapeseed, and peanut oils—had the lowest risk of developing ulcerative colitis (UC). UC is a condition in which the lining of the colon or large bowel becomes inflamed, causing a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, uncontrolled diarrhea, bloody stool, and unintentional weight loss.

Led by Andrew R. Hart, MD, of the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom, the team of researchers studied 25,000 men and women aged 40 to 65 years who were enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Diet and Cancer study between 1993 and 1997. The participants, who were not diagnosed with UC at study onset, kept detailed food diaries, which nutritionists analyzed and coded. During the follow-up in 2004, Dr. Hart and his team found that participants who had the highest intake of oleic acid had a 90% lower risk of developing UC.

Oleic acid suppresses inflammation, and Dr. Hart estimated that an amount equivalent to 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil per day could reduce the risk of developing UC. He said that if these results are verified, dietary guidelines could be developed that could both help prevent the disease and complement existing drug treatments. “This is critical, since many patients with UC have to take medications life-long, may need surgery, and have an increased risk of complication including cancer and perforation of the large bowel,” Dr. Hart said.

Antibiotics Given to Infants Could Lead to IBD Later in Life
Researchers from the University of Manitoba, Canada, have found that infants who take antibiotics in their first year of life are about 3 times more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) compared with children who do not take antibiotics.

The population-based study examined the University of Manitoba IBD Epidemiological Database, a record of all individuals with an IBD diagnosis in Manitoba. Thirty-six children aged 11 years and younger with IBD were identified and compared with a matched cohort of 360 children without IBD. The children’s records were cross-referenced with the Drug Program Information Network, an online prescription drug database. Of the children with IBD, 60% received 1 or more prescriptions for antibiotics in the period from birth to 1 year of age, compared with 39% of the control group.

The researchers hypothesized that antibiotics may cause irreversible damage to the flora in the bowels of infants, leading to the later development of IBD. Charles Bernstein, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Manitoba IBD Clinical and Research Centre, said the results should prompt clinicians to be cautious when prescribing antibiotics for infants, especially those infants with a family history of IBD.

Possible Cause of GERD Revealed by Molecular Imaging
Up to 15% of the population is affected by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which gastric acid and other stomach contents leak back into the esophagus, causing inflammation and pain. In a study presented at the 57th annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, researchers revealed that ineffective muscular movement of the esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter, also known as poor esophageal motility, might be responsible for this reflux.

The investigators used molecular imaging, a noninvasive technique that shows biologic processes on a cellular level, to scan the 49 study participants in a lying down position. All of the 10 participants with severe GERD and 24 of 28 patients with mild or moderate GERD demonstrated reduced esophageal motility. Five of the remaining 11 individuals, who had some symptoms but no diagnosable signs of GERD, demonstrated impaired esophageal motility.

These results suggest that poor esophageal motility exists in patients before GERD is diagnosed. Although the study was too small to determine that poor esophageal motility causes GERD, the authors believe a larger study could establish a causal relationship.

Lead author Alok Pawakar, MBBS, DRM, DNB, of Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, India, said further research could lead to the development of medications to improve esophageal mobility.


Fast Fact: Of individuals with ulcerative colitis (UC), 20% have a family member or relative with Crohn’s disease or UC.
More on the Web
For pharmacist-recommended Stomach/GI Health Products, go to www.OTCGuide.net. Click on: Stomach/GI.


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