The researchers identified patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease between the years 1964 and 2014 via the Swedish patient register. Using these data, they compared mortality rates in about 9,400 children who developed IBD with those of other children.
Their results show that children who developed IBD before the age of 18 have a three to five-fold higher mortality rate than people without IBD, both during childhood and into adulthood. This translates to a 2.2-year reduction in life expectancy in individuals monitored up to the age of 65.
The study was published online October 31 in Gut.
The researchers point out, however, that this was an observational study, which can’t prove cause and effect.
A strength of the study is its use of data from a large population-based database with complete information on subsequent diagnoses and drug prescriptions, which minimizes selection, information, and recall biases, the researchers say. Use of strict exclusion criteria as well as propensity score adjustment to control for potential confounders and restricting the sample to patients with successful H pylori eradication are other strengths.
In terms of study weaknesses, the researchers lacked information on some risk factors, such as diet, family history, and socioeconomic status. And despite the large sample of more than 63,000 H pylori–infected patients, the small number of gastric cancer cases did not allow for any “meaningful evaluation of the dosage effect and role of different PPIs,” the researchers say.
When compared to patients who took the traditional reflux medication, proton pump inhibitors (PPI), those patients who consumed a 90-95% whole food, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet paired with alkaline water had the same if not better reduction in reflux symptoms. 62.6 percent of patients treated with a plant-based diet and alkaline water saw a six point reduction in their Reflux Symptom Index (RSI — a measurement for the severity of reflux symptoms), compared to 54.1 percent reduction in patients taking PPI’s. Though this research only focused on those with laryngopharyngeal reflux, this same diet regimen has implications to help patients with gastro-esophageal acid reflux (also known as GERD).
The diet suggested by Dr. Zalvan consists of mostly fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts with near complete cessation of dairy and meats including beef, chicken, fish, eggs and pork. This is in addition to standard reflux diet precautions like avoiding coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, greasy and fried food, spicy foods, fatty foods and alcohol. Along with relieving reflux symptoms, Dr. Zalvan noted that many of his patients who were treated with a plant-based diet also experienced some weight loss and a reduction of symptoms and medication use from other medical conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Dr. Zalvan said that a plant-based diet approach with alkaline water and standard reflux precautions should either be attempted prior to the use of medication or with the short-term use of medication for more severe needs.
“This bacteria is emerging in the U.S. and it’s associated with a high mortality rate,” Kallen said in an interview. “We don’t want this circulating anywhere in the community.”
In 2012, a large study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the percentage of patients abusing alcohol increased from 7.6 percent before surgery to 9.6 percent two years after surgery — that’s potentially an additional 2,000 alcoholics each year in the United States. Since then, a growing body of evidence has corroborated these findings. The longest-running study suggests the effect persists even a decade after surgery.