Researchers Find Irritable Bowel Syndrome Associated with Increased Likelihood of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is four times as likely in patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as it is in people without IBS, according to a report in the April 13, 2009, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

A group of investigators headed by Alexander Ford, M.D., at the Health Sciences Centre, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, searched databases containing studies published from 1950 through mid-2008 and identified 14 studies that involved patients diagnosed with IBS, tests for antibodies associated with celiac disease, and biopsy-confirmed celiac disease. The studies were then evaluated through meta-analysis—a statistical approach that analyzes a single set of pooled data from numerous small studies designed to investigate similar hypotheses. In this case, the researchers assessed the likelihood of biopsy-proven celiac disease or positive findings for celiac antibodies—antigliadin antibodies, or either endomysial or tissue transglutaminase antibodies—in patients diagnosed with IBS.

The research group included investigators from McMaster University; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the Mayo Clinic Florida in Jacksonville; the Mayo Clinic Rochester in Minnesota; and the UCLA School of Medicine.

The studies included 4,204 people, of whom 2,278—or 54 percent—met diagnostic criteria for IBS. Analysis showed that prevalence of celiac disease in IBS patients was 4.1 times the prevalence in patients without IBS. Positive antigliadin antibodies were 4 times as likely and positive endomysial or tissue transglutaminase antibodies were 1.6 times as likely in IBS patients as in those without IBS.


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