A diet containing fish oil, which is rich in healthful omega-3 fatty acids, reduces symptoms of a colitis-like condition in rats, according to new research. The finding suggests that a proper dietary balance of beneficial fats could be an effective component of therapy in similarly affected people.
Ulcerative colitis, an inflammation of the colon that results in chronic abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea, and a related disorder called Crohn's disease, which produces similar inflammation in the small intestine, are together known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Genetic factors (SN: 5/26/01, p. 327: Genetic flaw found in painful gut disease), infectious agents (SN: 11/9/96,p. 302: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arch/11_9_96/bob2.htm),and diet all appear to play roles in these diseases, which affect up to 5 individuals per 1,000 in industrialized countries. Steroids and other treatments can reduce inflammation, but a cure remains elusive.