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Linoleic Acid May Be Cause of Some Ulcerative Colitis Cases

Dietary fat commonly found in oils and red meat converts to inflammatory chemicals

THURSDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- High dietary intake of linoleic acid may be the cause of 30 percent of cases of ulcerative colitis, according to a study published online July 23 in Gut.

Andrew Hart, M.D., of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, U.K., and colleagues conducted a study of 203,193 men and women in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom. who provided information on diet via a food frequency questionnaire.

During a median follow-up of four years, 126 subjects developed ulcerative colitis, and the highest quartile in terms of intake of dietary linoleic acid had higher odds of developing the disease versus the lowest (odds ratio, 2.49), the investigators found. The mechanism for the association is the conversion of linoleic acid to arachidonic acid which in turn converts to inflammatory chemicals found in high levels among ulcerative colitis patients.

"Measurement error in the food frequency questionnaire means the size of this reported effect is probably an under-estimate of the true effect," the authors write. "The positive association may reflect a causal association because of both a plausible biological mechanism and supportive evidence from other epidemiological studies. The association needs to be further investigated in other etiological work in different populations to assess consistency. If the positive association is causal, then there is substantial potential for reducing the incidence of ulcerative colitis through dietary modification."

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