Intended for healthcare professionals


Diet and risk of diverticular disease

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 19 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4115
  1. David J Humes, NIHR clinical lecturer in surgery1,
  2. Joe West, clinical associate professor and reader in epidemiology2
  1. 1Division of Surgery, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK
  2. 2Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  1. david.humes{at}

Vegetarians and people who consume high fibre diets may have a lower risk

Colonic diverticular disease causes a substantial healthcare burden, which is likely to increase as the elderly population grows.1 Little is known about who is affected by the disease, how often it occurs, and what the consequences are for patients. Nevertheless, the causes of diverticulosis, and the role of dietary fibre and a vegetarian diet, have been the focus of some small epidemiological studies.2 For example, in a study of 264 patients from the general population compared with 56 vegetarians, the vegetarians were less likely than the non-vegetarians to have radiologically confirmed diverticulosis (12% v 33%).3

For example, in a cross sectional study of 264 patients with confirmed diverticulosis, those with a vegetarian diet were less likely to have diverticulosis than non-vegetarians (12% v 33%).2 A cohort study of American healthcare professionals found that the insoluble component of fibre was associated with a decreased risk (relative risk 0.63, 95% confidence interval 0.36 to 0.75) of diverticular disease.4

The linked study by Crowe and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.d4131) used data from the Oxford cohort of the …

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