Sufferers of coeliac disease are four times more likely to develop active tuberculosis than those without gluten intolerance, according to a new study.
Swedish researchers compared 15,500 gluten intolerant people with 70,000 people who are free of the disease.
Results show that having coeliac disease quadruples the risk of an active TB infection in adults and trebles the risk in children..
The association is two-way, with those infected with TB at twice the risk of developing coleaic disease. The link is not associatedwith deprivation, which is known to be linked with TB, the authors add.
They suggest that coleaic disease may promote malabsorption of Vitamin D, which helps the immune system fight TB infection. Also, a gluten-free diet is often low in Vitamin D.
'This underlines the importance of evaluating Vitamin D status in patients with coleaic disease,' they conclude.
Thorax. Published onlineOctober 17 2006. doi:10.1136/thx.2006.059451