Study Suggests Link Between Eating Red Meat and Crohn's DiseaseJul 15, 2005 | The Guardian Scientists have been asked to investigate a possible link between eating meat and Crohn's disease, a debilitating illness affecting 100,000 Britons.
A study of the diets and lifestyles of 218 patients has revealed a statistical association with eating beef or canned meat such as corned beef.
The two-year study by researchers at the University of East Anglia has cleared dairy products, previously considered a possible factor in the disease, and tap water.
They asked patients only about meat consumption, since it had not been considered a likely source of infection.
Yet results suggested the chances of someone with Crohn's being a meat eater were 40% greater than those of someone without the disease being a meat eater.
The Food Standards Agency is asking its food safety advisers to consider what research may be necessary to establish more firmly whether there is a link.
Last month, a study revealed those who ate two portions of red meat a day had a 35% greater risk of developing bowel cancer than those who ate one portion a week.
The agency said its advice on eating meat remained the same - it could be eaten as part of a balanced and varied diet as it was a good source of iron, zinc, B vitamins and protein.
Officials in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the link might be a statistical blip or linked to total protein intake rather than a single infectious agent.
Paul Hunter, lead researcher on the government-funded project, said: "The findings related to both water and dairy consumption are reassuring.
"The other dietary associations at this stage do not indicate a cause and effect relationship."