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Red meat: what are the health risks?

According to researchers in the University of Boston, excessive consumption of red meat increases the risk of developing a type of inflammation of the intestines called diverticulitis or diverticulosis. So what are the symptoms?

Results of a study on red meat

The study carried out by American researchers in the University of Boston showed that there is a strong correlation between regular consumption of red meat and the risk of developing diverticulitis. 

Diverticulitis manifests as the formation of diverticula, or pockets, in the walls of the large intestines or other parts of the digestive system. Because of the pressure exercised on the fragile intestinal walls, small lesions can form on the diverticula, which lead to infection.

Over a period of 26 years, the researchers analysed the medical files of 46,000 men, as well as their dietary habits. During this time, 764 participants developed diverticulitis. Comparing the participants who ate the highest quantities of red meat with those who ate less, the researchers noticed that those who ate the most meat had a 58% higher risk than others of developing diverticulitis. 

Causes and symptoms of diverticulitis

The causes

In the West, 50% of people of over 60 years of age develop diverticulitis. Generally, it is due to a deficiency in dietary fibre, which we find mainly in fruit and vegetables. A lack of physical activity is also a factor.

The symptoms of diverticulitis

  • intense pain in the lower abdomen, on the left hand side
  • sensitivity in the abdomen
  • fever
  • nausea
  • constipation or diarrhea

Complications

Diverticulitis can develop into peritonitis if it is not treated, which is a much more serious problem.

In the case of a temperature higher than 38oC, strong abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, consult a doctor immediately.

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