A Melbourne study has found that just one in five coeliacs are aware they have the disease, which is now thought to be 40 per cent more prevalent in women and 25 per cent more prevalent in men than past statistics have indicated. The study, led by researcher Dr Jason Tye-Din at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, tested 2500 Australians using a new approach of combining a genetic test with traditional tests that measure the body’s immune response to gluten. The new method was reportedly able to increase the accuracy of testing and, by detecting false positives, helps many patients avoid unnecessarily undergoing a bowel biopsy.
In additional studies into coeliac disease, researchers at Monash University and Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital are looking at whether there is a link between gluten and depression. In a pilot study, they found that 90 per cent of people who said they were sensitive to gluten, but who did not have coeliac disease, experienced depression on a gluten diet compared to the placebo. However, there was no difference in overall gastro symptoms between the groups of the 22 people studied.
The researchers caution that while the pilot studies have provided an indication of a potential link between gluten consumption and depression, many more detailed and in depth studies are required to fully explore the relationship.