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Celiac Disease Carries Serious Risk of Thyroid Disorders
Celiac.com 11/25/2008 - Celiac disease is one of the most under-diagnosed medical disorders, with 97% of all cases currently remaining undiagnosed. According to the National Institutes of Health, 3 million people in the United States with celiac disease, while only 140,000 have been diagnosed. Celiac disease is more than twice as common in people over 50 years of age.
People with untreated celiac disease are at risk of developing any number of associated conditions, including gastrointestinal cancer at rates of 40 to 100 times those of the general population, in addition to osteoporosis, and a two-fold increase in the risk of fractures, including first-time hip fractures. Moreover, an unusually high percentage of people with celiac disease suffer from the following conditions: Anemia, Arthritis, Ataxia, Cancer—Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Cow's Milk Intolerance, Dermatitis, Diabetes-Type 1, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Liver Disease, Migraine Headaches, Nerve Disease and/or Peripheral Neuropathy, Obesity, Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia/Low Bone Density, Pancreatic & Thyroid Disorders.
According to a new study by doctors based in Sweden, people with celiac disease face a significantly higher risk of developing thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and thyroiditis.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that creates the hormones that control human metabolism. People with under-active thyroid, called hypothyroidism, suffer symptoms such as fatigue, sensitivity to cold, dry skin and weight gain, while people with overactive thyroid, called hyperthyroidism, commonly suffer from symptoms such as excessive sweating, heat intolerance, and nervousness. However, mild cases of hypo- or hyperthyroidism commonly present no symptoms at all. Inflammation of the thyroid gland is called Thyroiditis.
The research team, led by Dr. Peter Elfstrom at Orebro University Hospital, reviewed Swedish national health records covering the period from 1963 to 2003. The team compared rates of thyroid disease for 14,000 people with celiac disease against some 68,000 non-celiac control subjects matched for age and gender.
The results showed that people with celiac disease are diagnosed with hypothyroidism more than four times as often as non-celiacs, with hyperthyroidism more than three times as often as non-celiacs, and with hyperthyroidism more than 3.6 times as often as non-celiacs. Moreover, the relationship works both ways: people with established hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and thyroiditis face much higher rates of celiac disease.
These results held true even after the data were adjusted for potential confounders, including the presence of diabetes mellitus. The researchers theorize that the association between celiac disease and thyroid disease may be due to shared genetic or immunological traits.
This is just the latest in a string of studies that drives home the importance of early testing for suspected celiac cases, as early discovery and treatment with a gluten free diet greatly reduces associated complications in celiac disease.
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, October 2008.
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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams
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