Undiagnosed Celiac? Your Bones are at Risk

Dr. Vikki Petersen stresses the importance of an undiagnosed celiac getting diagnosed; how gluten effects their bone health; explains evidence of same; and reminds us to never cheat on our gluten diet. Thank you once again, Dr. Vikki, for educating us all!

For those of us who know something about celiac disease we understand that:

It’s an autoimmune disease

We may or may not know the following however:

Where there’s one autoimmune disease there tends to be others

Autoimmune diseases are the third leading cause of death in this country

Osteoporosis is one of over 100 different autoimmune diseases

Did you ever break a bone? When you do you assume that based on what occurred, anyone and everyone would have suffered the same fate… the broken bone. But we now realize that those with celiac disease are much more likely to suffer a fracture than their non-celiac counterparts. Plus, surprisingly, men may be at a particularly higher risk then we thought.

The above research comes to us from Argentina in a published study titled “Risk of Fracture in Celiac Disease” dated July 7, 2011 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

It has been hotly contended if those suffering from celiac-induced osteoporosis or osteopenia (early osteoporosis) could see reversal of their bone density problems when placed on a gluten-free diet. Professionally, I’ve definitely seen such a change in my patients, along with the reversal or improvement of other autoimmune diseases. But this study verified the beautiful ability of the human body to heal itself once the stressor (in the case of celiac disease – gluten) has been removed.

In a group of 256 people, all celiacs who had been diagnosed for over 5 years, information was gathered about prior fractures and to which bone they occurred. This data was compared to the control group of 530 individuals who had gastrointestinal problems as well, but none that were known to affect bone density. Similarly any individuals diagnosed with any disease condition that could affect bone health in a negative fashion were excluded. Lastly, those who were taking any supplements or drugs that could affect bone health in a positive way were also removed from consideration.

Those celiacs who participated in the study strictly adhered to their gluten-free diet and the minimum amount of time they had been gluten-free was 5 years.

The findings were these:

Celiacs, prior to diagnosis, who demonstrated ‘classical celiac’ (vs the silent or atypical form) had a higher incidence of fracture in their extremities (not the spine) before diagnosis than after maintaining their gluten-free diet. This was statistically most significant in men.

The exciting news was that after maintaining a gluten-free diet for 5 years, the risk of fracture dropped to that of the control group. The gluten-free diet, maintained, corrected any increased risk of fracture.

The take-home message is clear: Cheating on your gluten-free diet is always a bad idea. In addition to affecting so many facets of health, bone density can now be added to the list.

I hope you found this informative. Please let me know if I can answer further questions or help you to improve your health. I’m here to help!

For a free health analysis please call me at 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the eBook “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

One Reply to “Undiagnosed Celiac? Your Bones are at Risk”

  1. Ihave been diagnosed with celiacs for some.time now had several fractures, prior to diagnosis. Sonce going gluten free npne, and even my teeth have improved
    I do take calcium supliments now.

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