Studies offer new insight into diverticulosis

Diverticulosis, a condition that develops when pouches form in the wall of the colon, is increasing in frequency. It affects the majority of those reaching the age of 80 - a growing portion of the population - and imposes a substantial burden on health-care resources, but curiously there is a lack of data and unanswered questions around this condition.

The December issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, fills a critical research gap in diverticulosis research. The following four studies offer new insight into this condition.

  • "Constipation and a Low-Fiber Diet Are Not Associated with Diverticulitis" by Anne F. Peery, et al., http://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(13)01056-2/abstract. This cross-sectional, colonoscopy-based study challenges current beliefs by reporting that neither constipation nor a low-fiber diet is associated with an increased risk of diverticulosis.
  • "Increased Risk for Irritable Bowel Syndrome After Acute Diverticulitis" by Erica Cohen, et al., http://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(13)00386-8/abstract. According to this research, patients with diverticulitis could be at risk for later development of IBS and functional bowel disorders. The California-based researchers propose calling this disorder postdiverticulitis IBS.

  • "Long-term Risk of Acute Diverticulitis Among Patients with Incidental Diverticulosis Found During Colonoscopy" by Kamyar Shahedi, et al., http://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(13)00925-7/abstract. Based on a study of the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, only about 4 percent of patients with diverticulosis develop acute diverticulitis, contradicting the common belief that diverticulosis has a high rate of progression.

  • "Higher Serum Levels of Vitamin D Are Associated with a Reduced Risk of Diverticulitis" by Lillias H. Maguire, et al., http://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(13)01174-9/abstract. This study finds that, among patients with diverticulosis, higher prediagnostic levels of vitamin D in the body are associated significantly with a lower risk of diverticulitis. These data indicate that vitamin D deficiency could be involved in the development of diverticulitis.

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