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Increased Risk of Tuberculosis (TB) for those with Celiac Disease

Celiac.com 03/07/2007 - A recent study conducted in Sweden shows that individuals with celiac disease apparently face a significantly greater risk of contracting tuberculosis, possibly due to mal-absorption of vitamin D, according to a report in the January 2007 issue of Thorax.

Researchers found that people with prior tuberculosis are 2.5 times more likely to get celiac disease than those with no prior tuberculosis. According to lead investigator, Dr. Jonas F. Ludvigsson, of Orebro University Hospital, this indicates that celiac disease is fairly common in individuals who have tuberculosis. It also appears that tuberculosis is in fact more common in those with celiac disease than in those without.

Dr. Ludvigsson and a team of colleagues compared the risk of tuberculosis in more than 4000 patients with celiac disease to that of 69,000 matched individuals in a general population-based study.

The study showed the presence of celiac disease corresponded to about a 3-to-4 times greater risk of subsequent tuberculosis. Similar results were found when the study population was grouped by their gender and age at the time of diagnosis for celiac.

The researchers concluded that celiac disease could affect the action of tuberculosis medication.

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Further studies are likely warranted, as the study involved a fairly small number of cases, and only 24 celiac patients had contracted tuberculosis.

Subsequent confirmation of these findings would likely warrant making it standard practice to do serological testing for celiac disease in tuberculosis patients with gastrointestinal symptoms or with apparent drug resistance.

Thorax 2007;62:1-2,23-28.

health writer who lives in San Francisco and is a frequent author of articles for Celiac.com.

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