Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2000;12:1195-1199.

Celiac.com 01/20/2001 - Italian researchers have identified several key factors that contribute to bone loss in adults with celiac disease, including the following:

  • Gender
  • Malnutrition
  • Disease Severity
  • Physical Activity

They also conclude that, contrary to current belief, age at diagnosis, sunlight exposure and smoking do not seem to be significant factors in bone mineral density. In their study, Dr. Gino Roberto Corazza (University of Pavia) and associates evaluated 39 adults with untreated celiac disease, including 18 who had symptoms and 21 who did not. The researchers used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to measure lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral density, and assessed the patients physical activity, cigarette smoking, nutritional status and exposure to sunlight.

The results of the study indicate that femoral and lumbar bone mineral density was lower in patients with symptoms than patients without, and women tended to have lower mineral bone density than men. This finding, in combination with other factors were associated with reduced bone mineral density in the femoral neck, lumbar spine or both. Further, the key factors seem to be the severity of the patients symptoms and their nutritional status, both of which had significant effects on both lumbar and femoral bone mineral density. The patients levels of physical activity affected only femoral bone mineral density, and the gender of the patient affected mainly the lumbar density.

This is one of the first studies of its kind, and Dr. Corazzas group stresses the need for follow-up studies to determine whether additional therapeutic measures such as moderate and on-going physical activity and a more rapid implementation of a gluten-free diet might be useful in increasing the bone mass gain in people with celiac disease.

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