Celiac disease increases the risk of thyroid disease in type 1 diabetics. The findings come from a population-based cohort study analyzing data from Swedish National Patient Register between 1964 and 2009. Researchers identified patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes prior to the age of 31 and checked them for celiac disease with small intestine biopsy. Five type 1 diabetics were then selected as controls and paired to type 1 diabetics with celiac disease. Regression analysis was used to calculate future thyroid disease.
During the follow-up period, 90 patients in the type 1 diabetes and celiac group developed autoimmune thyroid disease. Of the type 1 diabetes group alone, prevalence of thyroid disease was only 7.2 percent, compared to 10.8 percent in the other group. Patients with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease combined were at a greater risk for hypothyreosis (hypothyroidism) as well, compared to the control type 1 diabetes group.
The researchers wrote, “Importantly, the highest risks were seen after over 10 years with [celiac disease], suggesting that long-term double autoimmunity is a risk factor for [autoimmune thyroid disease].”
Celiac disease is a gluten intolerance, which causes the onset of symptoms. Thyroid disease is a dysfunction of the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland that releases important hormones for proper body function.
Celiac disease has a high prevalence among thyroid disease patients, with incidence rates being four times higher than in the general public. Symptoms of celiac disease may differ in thyroid disease patients, increasing the difficulty of diagnosis. Research suggests screening for both conditions together may be a wise decision to avoid misdiagnosis.
The potential benefit of going gluten-free in thyroid disease is still unclear, but for those with celiac, gluten-free diet is a must.
The connection between celiac disease and thyroid disease can also be explained by the fact that patients with one autoimmune condition have a higher risk of developing another autoimmune condition.
Additionally, there is piling evidence suggesting a link between gluten consumption and autoimmune conditions – which may explain why celiac disease has a higher prevalence among thyroid patients.
If you currently have a thyroid disease, you may wish to get tested for celiac disease or attempt to follow a gluten-free diet to see if your symptoms improve.