Research has identified 160 genetic regions that may be linked to bowel diseases, finding many also play roles in regulation of immune function and how the gut interacts with bacteria. Now researchers also are studying whether air pollutants could affect bowel function. Gastroenterological scientist Karen Madsen said the GI tract regularly is bathed in fine pollution particles that could disrupt the barrier between the immune system and GI flora.
A diet designed to reduce food hypersensitivity may play a role in healing chronic anal fissures, Italian researchers reported in The American Journal of Gastroenterology. Sixty-nine percent of patients experienced healing on the study diet when added to other therapies, compared with 45% of controls. Researchers found some patients who went off the oligo-antigenic diet and consumed wheat and cow's milk had relapses, suggesting that anal fissures may be connected to food hypersensitivity.
The use of fecal transplant to cure recurrent Clostridium difficile infection may be paving the way for a super-probiotic to treat it, according to Dr. Leonard Smith, co-author of "The Road to Perfect Health." Smith says the condition is challenging because the typical treatment of antibiotics induces bacterial imbalance in the gut, but fecal transplants are believed to address the infection by restoring balance, and other health conditions are treated with such transplants, too. Smith notes that leading researcher Dr. Lawrence Brandt, writing in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, argues a paradigm shift is taking place in the understanding of health and disease treatment "and in its center is our microbiota."
The color and consistency of stools can show how well the gastrointestinal tract is functioning, writes registered dietitian Jo Ann Hattner, co-author of "Gut Insight." She said consuming more water and fiber as well as yogurts and drinks that contain live active cultures may help regulate the digestive system.
People with Crohn's disease have a slightly higher risk of extra-intestinal cancer but ulcerative colitis patients do not, study data showed. The report in the American Journal of Gastroenterology said the increased risk among Crohn's patients may come from disease involvement in the upper GI tract, extra-intestinal manifestations and smoking habits.