A Swedish study has found that coeliac (celiac) disease is associated with tuberculosis, report Reuters and The British Medical Journal. The full report is available here.

The study found that patients diagnosed with coeliac disease were more likely to suffer from tuberculosis. 14,335 coeliacs were compared with almost 70,000 non-coeliacs, using records of hospital discharges between 1964 and 2003.

“The risk of TB in patients with CD was increased 3-4 fold … a diagnosis of TB more than doubled the risk of CD.”

The researchers suggested that vitamin D could be the link between the two illnesses, because coeliac sufferers can have a deficiency of the vitamin because of their restricted diet, and difficulties absorbing the vitamin. Vitamin D is important for immune system response.

So what can you do?

Sunshine is a significant source of vitamin D – so go outside for a while (but not so long that you get sunburn, obviously).

Eat more of salmon, mackerel, tuna fish, sardines, eggs or fortified milks and margarines. If you can bear it, cod liver oil is very high in vitamin D … you see, your great-grandmother was right all along.

Update: Recent funding for research projects at Monash University includes funding to investigate whether coeliac disease causes a loss of coordination or cognitive impairment.