'Healthy' fat could lead to bowel disease

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Washington, July 24 (ANI): Consuming too much of polyunsaturated fat could lead to inflammatory bowel disease, according to a new study.

Scientists believe that a high intake of linoleic acid may be implicated in a third of ulcerative colitis cases.

Linoleic acid is a naturally occurring essential fatty acid, present in a variety of foods, including the oils of seeds and nuts, such as sunflower, safflower, soya, corn seeds or walnut oils.

The findings are based of the dietary habits of more than 200,000 people.

However, researchers also found that a diet rich in another type of fat, omega 3 fatty acid found in oily fish such as salmon and herring, reduced the likelihood of developing ulcerative colitis by 77 percent.

The research team said that that there is a plausible biological mechanism that could explain why linoleic acid is linked with this bowel condition.

Once in the body, linoleic acid is converted to arachidonic acid, which is a component of the cell membranes in the bowel.

Arachidonic acid can then be converted into various inflammatory chemicals, high levels of which have been found in the bowel tissue of patients with ulcerative colitis.

In all, 126 of the people in the study developed ulcerative colitis after an average period of four years.

After taking into account other factors likely to influence the results, including smoking, age, total energy intake, and use of aspirin, those whose diets included the most linoleic acid were more than twice times as likely to develop the condition as those whose diets contained the least.

"There are no dietary modifications of benefit in patients with ulcerative colitis, although, based on this study's findings, a diet low in linoleic acid may merit investigation," the BBC quoted lead author Dr Andrew Hart of the University of East Anglia, Norwich, as saying.

The study has been published in the online journal Gut. (ANI)

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