Posts Tagged ‘Diagnosis’

Diverticular Disease: Progression, Smoking and Nicotine

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

 

Diverticular disease (DD) can progress from changes in the gut nerves and muscles to formation of diverticula (diverticulosis), to symptoms of colon dysfunction, to infections and inflammation (diverticulitis), to chronic symptoms, and to serious abdominal complications. The number of sufferers along this pathway diminishes greatly at every stage, only a minority ever need surgical treatment. On the other hand, progression and ageing go hand in hand.

The causes and risk factors of progression after diverticulosis are as varied as the people with DD.  Nobody knows what brings on diverticulitis which can be a gateway to problems. Historically, a diet low in fibre was thought to be responsible for all of the disease spectrum and could be easily remedied. This is no longer accepted. In the second half of the 20th century nobody considered an effect of smoking on the gut. Most Western adults smoked despite the risks of lung cancer and heart disease. Cigarettes had calmed the soldiers of the war, they were glamorous and macho, and nicotine was strongly addictive.

Cigarette use was aligned much closer to the appearance of DD in the world than diets which were variable and often assumed. Articles on this website in 2012 and 2013 have details of this epidemiology and also explain the pharmacology of nicotine where chronic use can cause the damage to the colon characteristic of DD.

Diverticula on the colon have to be identified before a diagnosis of the disease can be made. This happens in a hospital setting when symptoms or severe illness leads to investigative scans, x-rays or colonoscopies. Diverticula have already been formed then. The development of diverticula was described by interested pathologists early in the 20th century. Recent genetic and epidemiology research confirms that nerve and collagen changes are involved (1,2). These are the chronic effects of nicotine.

Hospital researchers have used diagnosed patients and their memories to produce “risk factors” and “associations” for DD based mainly on diets. Now, screening for colon cancer by colonoscopy around 50 years of age uncovers symptom-free diverticula. Participants can provide data on their lifestyles. Including smoking is a new opportunity to see if this was relevant to the presence or absence of diverticula. Also, increasing numbers of surveys are providing clinical evidence that cigarette smoking has a major effect on DD and its potential progression.

DIVERTICULA FORMATION

Data about smoking in 18-20 year old military conscripts in 1969-1970 was compared with Swedish national registers in 2009. Smoking increased the diagnosis of DD (3). The use of tobacco was greater in the 41.7% of colonoscopy outpatients found to have diverticula. The traditional risk factors for the presence of diverticula (low dietary fibre, constipation, red meat intake, low physical activity) were not confirmed (4).These authors thought that diverticula were most certainly present for many years before they were observed. Other American researchers (5) also considered that diverticulosis was longstanding before it was revealed. Two Japanese studies (6,7) related smoking to finding diverticula in outpatients. A history of smoking was revealed in Ulcerative Colitis patients who had diverticulosis (8). Recently in China (9) smoking was associated with diverticula in men (odds ratio = 2.14) and even more so in women (odds ratio = 10.2). Pooling together the data from several surveys (meta-analysis)  increases the validity of results. Two such studies (10,11) implicated smoking with diverticulosis and also increased risk of complications of the disease.

SYMPTOMS

Past and current smokers had increased risk of symptomatic disease in Swedish women (12). In Swedish men, heavy smokers had increased risk of developing symptoms and there was some evidence of a dose/response relationship compared with non-smokers (13). The risk of changing from diverticulosis to diverticulitis was significantly higher in cigarette smokers in a report from Italy (14). Red meat was associated with increased risk of diverticulitis (15) but red meat eaters smoked more, used NSAID drugs and paracetamol, and had less vigorous exercise.

HOSPITAL ADMISSION

Present and previous smoking increased the risk for women of hospital admission for acute diverticulitis (16) and recurrent episodes (17). Compared with patients with no or minor symptoms, smoking was associated with hospital admissions because of complicated diverticulitis and severe infections (18,19).  Health conscious participants were used in a study by Crowe et al (20) to compare hospital and death records of DD between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Smoking levels were only between 10% and 15%. Vegetarians and high dietary fibre intake gave a lower risk of hospital admission than meat eaters, but the vegetarians were younger. Compared with non-smokers, the increased risks for former smokers, light and heavy smokers were 31%, 34% and 86% respectively.

SURGERY

A Canadian survey of patients who underwent a partial colectomy found that current and former smokers had increased risk of surgery compared with non-smokers (21). Smoking was a risk factor for leakage of the join in the colon after part of it had been removed (22).

Removal of the sigmoid colon affected by DD was needed at a younger age in smokers compared with non-smokers, and the complications had developed more rapidly in smokers (23).

STUDIES SHOWING NO EFFECTS OF SMOKING

Some studies have not found any link between smoking and DD (24,25,26,27). These can be difficult to assess with gaps in details such as patient selection and their particulars, and ages. End points can be right sided disease or bleeding. Bleeding has so far not been related to smoking, but age, condition of blood vessels and drug side effects are relevant (28). The most quoted study is that of Aldoori et al (29) and their analysis of US male health professionals followed since 1986. In the 4 years between 1988 and 1992 there were 500 new cases of DD, 382 with symptoms and 118 without. Smoking was positively associated with the risk of symptoms, increasing with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and decreasing with the time since stopping smoking. These results were attenuated when dietary data was included in the analysis. The authors concluded that smoking was not associated with any substantial increased risk of symptomatic DD.  Another recent statistical assessment of the same group of health professionals found that smoking was independently associated with increased risk of diverticulitis (30).

DISCUSSION

This collection of reports is not exhaustive and more studies are likely. Some reviewers do not include data but an author’s opinion is cited. A mixture of positive and negative results is also found for other risk factors for DD. Bohm (31) emphasises the importance of differentiating risk factors between those for diverticulosis and for the other effects of the disease. This separation has been attempted here. The end point of a study is also relevant. For example, eating nuts, grains, corn and popcorn had no effect on hospital admissions for complications. Dietary avoidance of these foods was dismissed as irrelevant (32), but the long-standing avoidance of these foods for DD was based on pain. Many patients suffer from chronic and severe pain outside the hospital setting which is rarely researched. In fact, information about less serious symptoms and their treatment dealt with at primary care level is largely absent (33).

Age, sex and genetics are risk factors which cannot be changed, but many lifestyle choices, co-existing diseases and drug treatments also affect DD. Increasing opinion is that diverticula take years to form and are evident through symptoms a long time, even decades, after their cause by smoking. The cause of DD is distinct from many other factors which cause symptoms and complications. However, smoking is detrimental to all aspects of the disease and this should be reflected strongly in patient information.

Computer statistical assessments are used to uncover factors relevant to diseases, symptoms and progression, but the data used is subject to human choices and interpretation of results. The effect of smoking on DD was only included as a confounding factoring in studies relatively recently. Are older dietary studies still relevant if this was not included? The article by Labos (34) and its on-line comments are recommended reading on the subject. He considers a result found in several patient populations carries weight when the trials cannot be accurately replicated. In the case of smoking and DD, there is world-wide epidemiology, the pharmacology of chronic nicotine use and now, increasing clinical evidence of its profound effects.

The effect of smoking on DD and other diseases will be more difficult to asses in the future when people replace tobacco cigarettes (smoking) with e-cigarettes (vaping) for their nicotine fix. Many countries have banned e-cigarettes but some official organisations and powerful charities seem to be advising their use. Avoiding the carcinogenic chemicals from tobacco smoke is welcomed to reduce the risks of cancer, but people are then classed as ‘non smokers’ in surveys. The number of smokers will reduce, but the effects of continued use of nicotine should not be dismissed lightly. E-cigarettes are not regulated and long-term effects have still to be revealed. E-cigarettes are not medical devices, they will not overcome addiction to nicotine without commitment, determination and any help available. Retail outlets are increasing to make vaping commonplace and accessible. Its use by under 18s is increasing. Tobacco companies view e-cigarettes as their next generation products and aim to increase promotion and sales, just like they did in the mid 20th century for cigarette smoking.

Déjà vu.

© Mary Griffiths 2019

REFERENCES

1.      Schafmayer C. et al. Genome-wide association analysis of diverticular disease points towards neuromuscular, connective tissue and epithelial pathomechanisms. Gut, 2019, Jan, 19th Epub.

2.      Broad JB et al. Diverticulosis and nine connective tissue disorders: epidemiological support for an association. Connect Tissue Res. 2019, Feb 5th. Epub.

3.      Jarbrink-Sehgal ME et al. Lifestyle factors in late adolescence associated with later development of diverticular disease requiring hospitalization. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018, 16, 1474.

4.      Peery AF. et al. A high-fiber diet does not protect against asymptomatic diverticulosis. Gastroenterology, 2012, 142, 266.

5.      Strate LL. Diverticulosis and dietary fiber: rethinking the relationship. Gastroenterology, 2012, 142,205.

6.      Tarao K. et al. Recent trends in colonic diverticulosis in Yokohama City: a possibility of changing to a more western profile. Intern med, 2015, 54, 2545.

7.      Nagata N. et al. Alcohol and smoking affect risk of uncomplicated colonic diverticulosis in Japan. PloS One, 2013, 8, e81137.

8.      Kinnucan J. et al. U.S. patients with ulcerative colitis do not have a decreased risk of diverticulosis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015, 21, 2154.

9.      Yang F. et al. Sex differences in risk factors of uncomplicated colonic diverticulosis in a metropolitan area from Northern China. Sci Rep. 2018, 8, 138.

10.  Wijarnpreecha K. et al. Smoking and risk of colonic diverticulosis: a meta-analysis. J Postgrad Med. 2018, 64, 35.

11.  Aune D. et al. Tobacco smoking and the risk of diverticular disease – a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Colorectal Dis. 2017, 19, 621.

12.  Hjern F. et al. Smoking and the risk of diverticular disease in women. Br J Surg. 2011, 98, 997.

13.  Humes DJ. et al. PTU-230 Smoking and the risk of symptomatic diverticular disease: a Swedish population based cohort study. Dis Colon Rectum. 2016, 59, 110.

14.  Usai P. et al. cigarette smoking and appendectomy: effect on clinical course of diverticulosis. Dig Liver Dis. 2011, 43, 98.

15.  Cao Y. et al. Meat intake and risk of diverticulitis among men. Gut, 2018, 67, 466.

16.  Jamal Talabani A. et al. Risk factors of admission for acute colonic diverticulitis in a population-based cohort study: The North Trondelag Health Study, Norway. World J Gastroenterol. 2016, 22, 10663.

17.  El-Sayed C. et al. Risk of recurrent disease and surgery following an admission for acute diverticulitis. Dis Colon Rectum. 2018, 61, 382.

18.  Papagrigoriadis S. et al. Smoking may be associated with complications in diverticular disease, Br J Surg. 1999, 86, 923.

19.  McGarr S. et al. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of infectious complications associated with diverticular disease of the colon. Am J Gastroenterol, 2000, 95, 2543.

20.  Crowe FL. et al. Diet and risk of diverticular disease in Oxford cohort of European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition (EPIC): prospective study of British vegetarians and non-vegetarians. BMJ, 2011, 343, d4131.

21.  Diamant MJ. et al. Smoking is associated with an increased risk for surgery in diverticulitis: a case control study. PLoSOne 2016, 11, e0153871.

22.  Baucom RB. et al. Smoking as dominant risk factor for anastomotic leak after left colon resection. Am J Surg. 2015, 210, 1.

23.  Turunen P. et al. Smoking increases the incidence of complicated diverticular disease of the sigmoid colon. Scandinavian Journal of Surgery. 2010, 99, 14.

24.  Storz C. et al. Characteristics and associated risk factors of diverticular disease assessed by magnetic resonance imaging in subjects from a Western general population. Eur Radiol. 2018, 29, 1094.

25.  Adamova Z. et al. Recurrent diverticulitis – risk factors. Rozhi Chir, 2013, 92, 563.

26.  Jamieson CG. et al. An investigation into the relationship between cigarette smoking and diverticular disease of the colon.  Can J Gastroenterol. 1990, 4, 193.

27.  Lin OS. et al. Dietary habits and right sided colonic diverticulosis. Dis colon Rectum. 2000, 43, 1412.

28.  Jansen A. et al. Risk factors for colonic diverticular bleeding: a Westernised community based hospital study. World J Gastroenterol. 2009, 15, 457.

29.  Aldoori WH. et al. A prospective study of alcohol, smoking, caffeine, and the risk of symptomatic diverticular disease in men. Ann Epidemiol 1995, 5, 221.

30.  Liu PH. et al. Adherence to a healthy lifestyle is associated with a lower risk of diverticulitis among men. Am J Gastroenterol. 2017, 112, 1868.

31.  Bohm SK. Risk factors for diverticulosis, diverticulitis, diverticular perforation and bleeding: a plea for more subtle history taking. Viszeralmedizin, 2015, 31, 84.

32.  Strate LL. et al. Nut, corn and popcorn consumption and the incidence of diverticular disease. JAMA , 2008, 300, 907.

33.  Humes DJ. Changing epidemiology: does it increase our understanding? Dig Dis. 2012, 30, 6.

34.  Labos C. Epidemiology: separating the wheat from the chaff. Aug 14th 2018. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/900381

Diverticular disease AND/OR irritable bowel syndrome

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Information about diverticular disease (DD) is available in fact sheets on many internet sites, but these should be assessed. Is it up to date, does it help day-to-day problems, is it a charity or a business? Discussions on forums show a variety of experiences of DD and no general approach on what can be done to help. DD is sometimes mentioned by charities which support younger people with, for example, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis (IBD) or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In the last few years some people with DD have been told that they also have IBS. This can be very confusing because DD and IBS are different complaints sometimes with conflicting treatments and certainly different potential outcomes. Some researchers propose that any symptoms without diverticulitis must be IBS. This ignores or denies the colon damage which resulted in diverticula forming. Sources of information about IBS do not cover an IBS/DD diagnosis, never mind any differences which should be considered. (more…)

Colon Wall Muscles in Diverticular Disease

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

MUSCLE LAYERS

Between the mucus producing lining and the outer layer of the colon wall, there are two major muscle systems. The inner circular muscles surround the colon, contraction can close the colon or they can act in waves to propel contents along. Between the appendix at the beginning and the rectum at the end of the colon, longitudinal muscles are gathered into three bands known as taenia. This arrangement allows contractions to shorten the colon and propel faeces without compressing them. Coordination between the two types of muscle can produce a variety of movements. An earthworm moving along soil is a good example to observe a similar system.

MOVEMENTS ALONG THE COLON

In the caecum, repeated circular muscle contractions mix the liquid contents (chyme). These change into backwards and forwards segmenting and propulsive movements to dry and move the mushy contents along the ascending and transverse lengths of the colon. Longitudinal muscles become more involved as faeces become more solid in the second, left side, of the colon. Occasional powerful contractions sweep faeces into the descending and sigmoid areas. Faeces are stored with the sigmoid area acting as a vertical warehouse with supporting arcs of circular muscle. Strong contractions of longitudinal muscles produce a concertina effect to push out colon contents on defaecation. The first half of the colon is controlled automatically by the vagus nerve from the brain. The left side has some local nerve reflexes and a person can have some influence such as when to defaecate.

CHANGES WITH DIVERTICULAR DISEASE

Changes in the colon musculature in diverticular disease (DD) were described even before the early 20th century when DD was rare, (1) and in many reports since. Muscle abnormality and dysfunction persisted in the colon after resection of the areas with diverticula (2). Long sections of the left colon can change in appearance without any diverticula which may only occur years later. The muscular abnormalities are the primary pathogenic mechanisms of DD (3). DD is only diagnosed when diverticula are observed, changes in muscles have had little attention especially in areas without diverticula. (more…)

Is diverticular disease making you housebound?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

THE PROBLEM

DD affects people in many different ways, some have few or no symptoms and their lifestyle is unaffected. Others are simply too ill to even think about leaving their home. These extremes can be a permanent or temporary situation for many sufferers. Older, retired people with DD sometimes have a different problem. An organiser of outings for an over-60s club said that people with DD could not go on their trips because they dare not go away from a toilet. That was 3 decades ago and not much has changed since then. Some coaches now have on-board toilets but public transport and car journeys also present problems. Apprehension and nervousness before a holiday, meal or outing, even a pleasurable one, sends their guts into overdrive. There is no mention of this problem in medical or self-help books or websites. It is not a topic of conversation even with close relatives and comedian’s jokes do not help. (more…)

How many people have diverticular disease and symptoms

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Nearly every review of diverticular disease (DD) and some research papers begin with statistics about how many people have DD at different ages. Figures regularly quoted for Western countries are 5% of the population by the age of 40, 25% by the age of 60 and 65% at 85 years. Variations are also described such as 50% of the population over 60 years, or 1/3 to 1/2 of the population will get the disease. In England and Wales this works out at over 5 million people which would rise with the aging population.

Trying to find the sources of these figures (more…)

Diverticular Disease in Healthcare Systems, part 1 hospitals

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Diverticular disease (DD) is not the sort of complaint where a distinct diagnosis is obvious without investigation. Nor is there a well established treatment regime which prevents or slows down a foreseeable progression. DD is not predictable in its effects, it may or may not progress and there is no treatment which is universally successful. The place of DD in the healthcare system is not clear-cut. (more…)