May 3, 2010

Research Presented At DDW Explores Links Between Diet And Disease

More research exploring the health risks and benefits of diet and medication yielded surprising findings.  These studies are being presented at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW®) 2010. DDW is the largest international gathering of physicians and researchers in the field of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.

Links Between Heartburn Medication and Cardiac Birth Defects

The use of common anti-reflux medications during pregnancy may be associated with a doubling of the risk of cardiac birth defects, according to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  More than half of all women who become pregnant suffer from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), better known as heartburn, which can be hard to control during pregnancy. Often symptoms start early in pregnancy when the fetus is most vulnerable to the effects of medications, which can lead to birth defects.

Since PPIs are relatively new to the market, not much is known about their safety during pregnancy.  Usually, physicians treat pregnancy-related GERD with conservative measures such as advising patients to eat smaller meals, but  frequently, these methods are ineffective, which is why physicians are increasingly prescribing proton pump inhibitors (PPI).  Researchers performed a nested case-control study within The Health Improvement Network database and looked at medical records from pregnant women in the U.K. from 2000 to 2008. They identified which pregnancies resulted in birth defects and compared the maternal PPI use of these cases with matched pregnancies that did not result in a birth defect.

Alcohol Linked to Surgery Complications

Alcohol consumption is a significant contributor to adverse outcomes in elective surgery, according to a new study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.   Researchers studied more than 300,000 discharge records from the American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database for elective adult admissions. The database includes data from approximately 125 hospitals across the country. Because of its size, this study was able to account for internal biases and determine the independent effect of alcohol consumption on morbidity and mortality following surgery.

Patient records examined in the study were divided into two groups: those with active alcohol exposure, which was defined as at least two drinks per day everyday for two weeks prior to surgery, and those who did not have active alcohol exposure. Those with active alcohol exposure represented 2.5 percent of the records examined. Researchers measured outcomes including length of stay, wound infection, sepsis and death, and found that alcohol use was an independent predictor of pneumonia, sepsis, superficial surgical site infection, wound disruption and longer median hospital stays, and that acute alcohol consumption had a significant effect on mortality.

High Level Sports May Cause Anal Incontinence in Young Women

Young, healthy women aged 18-40 who engage in athletics appear to be at increased risk for anal incontinence, according to a study from the Universit© de la M©diterran©e, Marseille, France. Researchers sought to determine the extent to which high-level sports (consisting of at least eight hours per week of practice) may induce anal incontinence in young females.

Of the 393 women enrolled, 169 were in the intensive sport group and 224 were in the non-intensive sport group. The prevalence of anal incontinence was statistically higher in the intensive sport group (14.8 percent versus 4.9 percent), as was urinary incontinence (33.1 percent versus 18.3 percent) and dyspareunia [painful sexual intercourse] (20.1 percent versus 9.4 percent). Statistically, intensive sport practice was significantly linked to anal incontinence; daily leakage was observed in 20 percent of the cases, weekly in 36 percent and monthly in 44 percent.

Obesity and Increased Rates of Colorectal Cancer

Obese adults who were overweight or obese in childhood and early adulthood are at twice the risk for developing colon cancer compared to adults with consistently normal weight, according to investigators from New York University.  Researchers studied the current and past body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference of 1,865 patients referred for a screening colonoscopy. Past BMIs were estimated from patient recall of body type and clothing size at ages 10 and 20. Each patient's level of obesity at specific age points were compared with the information from the screening colonoscopy, including the number, size and location of each polyp found.

From their analysis, investigators found a significant prevalence of polyps in patients who had been consistently overweight or obese (27 percent), especially compared to patients with consistently normal BMI (13 percent) and overweight BMIs at present (19 percent). This study also observed that specific racial and ethnic group participants were more likely to be obese at present and throughout their life, increasing their risk of polyps.

High Protein Intake and Increased Irritable Bowel Disease

Researchers have identified an association between high protein intake and a significantly increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While doctors have long suspected that diet contributes to IBD, little has been assessed, and the studies conducted have been retrospective, which are less informative because they rely on the study participants' ability to recall what they have consumed in the past.  This study examined the effects of different sources and amounts of protein.  Using participants in France's E3N cohort study, researchers at the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population identified 77 women ages 40 to 65 with validated cases of IBD. In each case, the onset of IBD occurred after the first dietary questionnaire was administered, thereby assuring that they could be studied prospectively.


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