Celiac.com 03/30/2005 – According to Italian researchers, those with lactose intolerance have a much higher incidence of celiac disease. In an effort to determine how many cases could be caused by undiagnosed celiac disease, the researchers screened 54 lactose intolerant patients (15 males and 39 females - positive H2-lactose breath test and a negative H2-glucose breath test) for celiac disease. All patients were screened using serum IgA antibodies to endomysium, anti-transglutaminase and total IgA, and anyone with positive results for any one of these markers was give an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. The researchers found that a full 24% of those with lactose intolerance had biopsy-confirmed celiac disease. These results were compared to a control group of 50 blood donors from the same region, out of which only 2% were positive--but a follow up biopsy eliminated celiac disease.
The researchers conclude that a full 24% of patients with a positive H(2)-lactose breath test have celiac disease which is the likely cause of their lactose intolerance, and that anyone with a positive H(2)-lactose breath test should first be screened for celiac disease before excluding milk from their diets.