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Gluten-Free Diet could Prevent Hip Fractures for People with Celiac Disease

Update Date: Jan 17, 2014 04:17 PM EST

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the lining of the small intestine and prevents them from absorbing certain nutrients from food. In a new study, researchers reported that people who experience long-term damage to their intestine have a greater risk of hip fractures. The study also found that if people ate a gluten-free diet, their risk of hip fractures could reduce.

"Our research confirmed that patients had a higher rate of hip fractures when tissue damage persisted over time," study author Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, of the Celiac Disease Center at the Columbia University Medical Center, said reported by WebMD. "Sticking to a gluten-free diet is crucial for minimizing tissue damage and reducing the risk of a serious fracture that could cause other complications."

For this research, Lebwohl and colleagues looked at the intestinal tissue samples provided by more than 7,100 people residing in Sweden. The samples had tested positive for celiac disease between 1969 and 2008. After five years since the participants were diagnosed, they underwent intestinal biopsies. The researchers found that 43 percent of them had persistent damage in their small intestine.

Although the researchers found that all of the participants had a similar risk of hip fracture during the follow-up, people who had more persistent intestinal damage had a greater long-term risk of hip fracture. The researchers concluded that a gluten-free diet and follow-up biopsies could be beneficial for people suffering from celiac disease.

"Physicians have debated whether people with celiac disease actually benefit from a follow-up biopsy to determine the level of tissue healing taking place," Lebwohl said. "These findings suggest that a follow-up biopsy can be useful for predicting complications down the road."

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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