Meat intake is associated with a higher risk of ulcerative colitis in a large European prospective cohort study

Catherine Dong, Simon S M Chan, Prevost Jantchou, Antoine Racine, Bas Oldenburg, Elisabete Weiderpass, Alicia K Heath, Tammy Y N Tong, Anne Tjønneland, Cecilie Kyrø, Bas Bueno de Mesquita, Rudolf Kaaks, Verena A Katzke, Manuela M Bergman, Heiner Boeing, Domenico Palli, Giovanna Masala, Rosario Tumino, Carlotta Sacerdote, Sandra M Colorado-YoharMaria-Jose Sánchez, Olof Grip, Stefan Lindgren, Robert Luben, Inge Huybrechts, Marc J Gunter, Yahya Mahamat-Saleh, Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, Franck Carbonnel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: We aimed to investigate the association between protein intake and risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.

METHODS: 413 593 participants from eight European countries were included. Dietary data were collected at baseline from validated food frequency questionnaires. Dietary data were calibrated to correct errors of measures related to each country-specific questionnaire. Associations between proteins (total, animal, and vegetable) or food sources of animal proteins, and IBD risk were estimated by Cox proportional hazard models.

RESULTS: After a mean follow-up of 16 years, 177 patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and 418 with ulcerative colitis (UC), were identified. There was no association between total protein, animal, or vegetable protein intakes and CD or UC risks. Total meat and red meat intakes were associated with UC risk (HR for the 4 thvs. 1 st quartile = 1.40; 95% CI = 0.99-1.98; P-trend = 0.01; and 1.61; 95% CI = 1.10-2.36, P-trend = 0.007, respectively). There was no association between other food sources of animal protein (processed meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry) and UC. We found no association between food sources of animal proteins and CD risk.

CONCLUSION: Meat and red meat consumptions are associated with higher risks of UC. These results support dietary counseling of low meat intake in people at high-risk of IBD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1196
JournalJournal of Crohn's & Colitis
Issue number8
Early online date2022 Apr 9
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Gastroenterology and Hepatology


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