who have the bone disease osteoporosis are more likely than the
general population to also have celiac disease, an intestinal disorder
caused by intolerance to wheat flour (gluten). Celiac disease renders
patients unable to absorb certain nutrients, including calcium and
vitamin D -- both essential to bone health -- leading to osteoporosis.
The good news? Researchers say that treating celiac disease with
diet can help patients regain bone health.
The study involved 840 people, 266 patients with osteoporosis and
547 without. Nine of the patients with osteoporosis also had celiac
disease, compared with only one of those without osteoporosis. Results
suggested that 3 percent to 4 percent of people with osteoporosis
have it because they have celiac disease.
A Gluten-Free Diet Improves Osteoporosis
in Celiac Patients
When patients with celiac disease and osteoporosis were put on
a gluten-free diet for one year, they were able to improve not only
gastrointestinal symptoms but bone density as well, researchers
Celiac disease is an immune reaction to the gluten portion of wheat.
It inhibits the intestine's absorption of nutrients, which can lead
to malnutrition and gastrointestinal symptoms. Many patients experience
weight loss and diarrhea as a result, although some patients experience
only mild symptoms and therefore may not know they have the disease.
The condition is treated by removing gluten-containing grains from
In the study, 4.5 percent of people with osteoporosis also had
celiac disease, compared with only 0.2 percent of people with healthy
bones. Researchers say this occurrence was high enough to justify
regularly screening patients with osteoporosis for celiac disease,
and if the results come back positive to put them on a gluten-free
diet to treat both conditions.
of Internal Medicine February 28, 2005;165(4):393-399
News Today February 28, 2005