Celiac Disease May Raise Schizophrenia Risk

Published Online: Saturday, May 1, 2004

Celiac disease (a malabsorption disorder in which the consumption of gluten triggers an immunologic response) and schizophrenia (a mental disorder characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and disturbances in thinking and communications) may be linked.

As reported in the February 21, 2004, issue of the British Medical Journal, William W. Eaton, PhD, and colleagues examined the relationship between celiac disease and schizophrenia. They studied 7997 patients admitted to a Danish psychiatric facility for the first time between 1981 and 1988 with a diagnosis of schizophrenia; 25 age- and sex-matched controls were selected for each case. Results showed that patients with a history of celiac disease are at increased risk (relative risk: 3.2; P < .0001) for the development of schizophrenia.

The authors indicated that patients with schizophrenia might benefit from screening for celiac disease because the diagnostic tests used are minimally invasive and inexpensive. Preliminary studies suggest that gluten removal may help to alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia.

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