Celiac screening and osteoporosis

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 28, 2005

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The higher prevalence of celiac disease in people with osteoporosis could justify screening patients with osteoporosis for celiac, according to an article in the Feb. 28 Archives of Internal Medicine.

Although adults diagnosed with celiac disease commonly have a low bone mineral density that improves with a gluten-free diet, there had not been clear evidence of the benefit of screening everyone with osteoporosis for celiac disease.

But the researchers found that the prevalence of celiac among osteoporotic patients was high enough to justify a recommendation that all individuals with osteoporosis undergo serologic screening for celiac disease.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Alan L. Buchman, MD, MPH, of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, wrote that the cost to prevent a single fracture in a patient with celiac disease and osteoporosis would be $43,000, similar to the cost of screening mammography.

Because not all studies have found an increased prevalence of celiac disease in individuals with osteoporosis or an increased fracture risk in patients with celiac disease, Dr. Buchman advises holding off on a screening recommendation until additional studies are conducted.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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