The causes of relapses of ulcerative colitis (UC) are unknown, but some dietary factors have been implicated in its pathogenesis.
Dr Welfare's group aimed to determine which dietary factors are associated with an increase risk of relapse of UC.
A cohort of UC patients in remission, recruited from two district general hospitals, took part in this prospective study. Participants were followed for one year to determine the effect of habitual diet on relapse.
Relapse was defined using a validated disease activity index.
Nutrient intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire and then categorised into tertiles.
In order to control for non-dietary factors, researchers determined adjusted odds ratios using multivariate logistic regression.
In total, 191 patients were recruited and 96% completed the study. 52% of patients relapsed.
High meat or alcohol intake is associated with an increased likelihood of relapse in UC patients
Consumption of meat, particularly red and processed meat, protein and alcohol in the top tertile of intake was found to increase the likelihood of relapse compared with the bottom tertile of intake.
High sulphur or sulphate intakes were also associated with relapse and may offer an explanation for the observed increased likelihood of relapse, suggest the researchers.
The group concluded that potentially modifiable dietary factors, such as a high meat or alcoholic beverage intake are associated with an increased likelihood of relapse for UC patients.
There is still a need for further research in order to determine if it is the sulphur compounds within these foods that mediates the likelihood of relapse and if reducing their intake would reduce relapse frequency.