Is there a relationship between Osteoporosis and Celiac Disease?
Have you ever struggled with a health condition and wondered if the
solution might be some simple thing, right under your nose, that you and
your doctor have easily overlooked?
This might be the case for thousands of the 18 million people in the
U.S. who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis or have low bone
mass, which places them at high risk of the disease.
Making the connection
Scientists already know there's a much larger incidence of celiac
disease (CD) among osteoporosis patients than that of the general
population. CD is a triggered by gluten intake.
Treatment for this condition is simple: remove gluten from the diet. But
will CD treatment have any effect on osteoporosis?
This is the question that researchers from the Washington University
School of Medicine in St. Louis set out to address when they recruited
840 subjects, 266 of whom had been diagnosed with osteoporosis. All
subjects were screened for CD, and results were confirmed with
intestinal biopsies. Those who tested positive for CD then underwent one
year of treatment with a . Bone mineral density tests
were used to monitor osteoporosis.
The results: Severity of osteoporosis was found to correlate with
severity of CD. More importantly, subjects who were treated with the
special diet showed significant improvement in bone mineral density.
The lead researcher, William F. Stenson, M.D., offered this assessment
in a Washington University press release: "Our results suggest that as
many as three to four percent of patients who have osteoporosis have the
bone disease as a consequence of having celiac disease, which makes them
unable to absorb normal amounts of calcium and vitamin D."
Gluten is a typical component of several different grains. As a primary
ingredient of flour, gluten delivers protein and gives bread a higher
rise. The problem is that many people don't tolerate gluten well,
complicated by the fact that a good number of them aren't even aware of
But celiac disease is more than just sensitivity to gluten; it's an
auto-immune disorder in which gluten creates an obstruction to the
absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. When CD goes untreated,
malnutrition can develop, followed by a chronic condition that may
trigger other dangerous ailments, including gastrointestinal cancer.
The problem with diagnosis of CD is that the symptoms are sometimes
directly related to digestion (as with abdominal cramping, unexplained
weight loss, and chronic diarrhea), but sometimes not (as with joint
pain, and depression). If any of these symptoms occur in a patient with
family history of CD, this should stand out as a red flag for any physician.
The primary treatment for celiac disease is adherence to a strict
non-gluten diet. But this is easier said than done. High-gluten grains
can be easily remembered with the mnemonic "BROW": barley, rye, oat and
wheat, but gluten is often hidden in some foods such as soups, soy
sauce, low-fat or non-fat products, and even in candies such as jelly
beans. Some common food ingredients that may contain gluten include:
modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable or plant protein, and some
binders and fillers, as well as malt and natural flavorings.
As Dr. Stenson pointed out, for a small fraction of osteoporosis
patients CD may be a precursor of their condition. But that small
fraction could equal thousands of patients in the U.S. alone. Needless
to say, anyone with osteoporosis who has a family history of CD or
sensitivity to gluten should talk with their doctor about the Washington
University study to determine if a blood test to screen for CD is necessary.
Those who test positive may also want to talk with their doctors or
healthcare providers about supplements that contain a plant-based enzyme
called Aspergillus oryzae. A number of studies have shown that the
enzyme may be effective in protecting the intestine from the effects of
gluten. Formulas containing Aspergillus oryzae (such as Similase and
Zest for Life Enzyme Boost Formula) are available from sources on the
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Some useful info...
A friend emailed me this the other day. It is interesting.... Not only do I have issues with the BROW grains - I have issues with corn and milk and now maybe a sensitivity to soy! I worry about my calcium intake - so I have found a great fortified rice milk and I take a supplement!