In a new study, researchers have found a connection between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease.
A systematic review showed there is a nine-fold increased risk of having IBD for patients with a previous diagnosis of celiac disease.
Similarly, the risk for celiac disease is increased in IBD patients, though to a smaller extent.
The research was conducted by a team at McMaster University.
Doctors have always suspected that IBD and celiac disease may be linked, however, a clear association was never found.
This is important, as failure to diagnose one or the other condition could compromise proper response to available treatments.
It also raises questions on screening for the other disease in a patient already diagnosed with either IBD or celiac disease.
IBD and celiac disease are chronic and disabling intestinal conditions affecting many Canadians as Canada has one of the highest frequencies of IBD in the world.
Both diseases share similar risk factors and their prevalence has increased in the past years.
While the exact cause of IBD is unknown, it is accepted that infections, genes and other environmental factors are involved.
Celiac disease affects 1 in 100 Canadians, and its main environmental trigger is dietary gluten, but specific genes are required to develop the condition.
In the study, the team identified 9,800 studies and included 65 studies in their analysis.
Of those, 30 studies included control groups with a total of 13.6 million participants, including 43,000 celiac patients, 166,000 IBD patients (39,000 Crohn’s, 56,000 ulcerative colitis, and 3,000 indeterminate colitis patients), and 13.4 million controls.
The researchers found there is a strong association between celiac disease and IBD, but at this time, it is unclear whether screening of IBD should be performed in celiac disease and vice versa.
The next step is to determine whether testing for diseases is cost-effective and beneficial to patients.
The lead author of the study is Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez, associate professor of medicine.
The study is published in Gastroenterology.
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