Celiac Disease Overlooked as Cause of Iron-Deficiency Anemia – (02-19-01)

Celiac Disease Overlooked as Cause of Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Celiac disease (gluten insensitivity; an allergy to certain proteins in wheat, barley and rye) does occur at a surprisingly high percentage in our population (one in 100 to 300, depending upon whom you ask…), and anemia is only a small portion of the potential deleterious effects; Alzheimers, autoimmune diseases, dental caries and osteoporosis are but a few others on the list. Remember that food allergies, no matter the type, can upregulate the immune system and lead to excessive inflammation. One chaep, easy way to begin to cut down on some of your food allergies is to add betaine HCL (stomach acid) to your meals–the better we break down proteins to amino acids, the less likely those proteins are to invoke an allergic response.

Br J Haematol 2000;111:898-901 Especially in menstruating women, celiac disease appears to be underinvestigated as a potential cause of iron-deficiency anemia. Dr. D. J. Unsworth of Southmead Hospital in Bristol, UK, and colleagues identified 483 blood samples from prospective blood donors who met study criteria for anemia (hemoglobin <11 g/dL for women, <13.5 g/dL for men in order to recruit enough men). Of the donors, 28 women (26 premenopausal) and 4 men tested positive for IgA anti-endomysial antibodies and were asked to undergo further followup for celiac disease. Of the 25 subjects who underwent endoscopic small intestinal biopsy, 22 “had histological changes compatible with celiac disease,” the researchers write. Twenty-one of these were women, and Dr. Unsworth’s team notes that none of the women had been previously investigated for the possibility of celiac disease. The research team reports that their screening of anemic adults for celiac disease resulted in a detection rate of over 6%, compared with 0% detection of celiac disease using EDTA blood samples from 250 nonanemic blood donors. “Celiac disease serology is easy, cheap and reliable,” the authors write. “We recommend that all cases of anemia of uncertain cause, including all women with anemia ascribed to menstrual blood loss or poor diet, be checked for celiac disease-associated autoantibodies.”


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.