Patients suffering from non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) frequently report extra-intestinal symptoms, such as anemia.
We investigated the prevalence and associated clinical features of anemia in NCWS patients.
Data from 244 NCWS patients, diagnosed by double-blind placebo-controlled wheat challenge, were retrospectively reviewed and compared with 2 control groups (celiac disease (CD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)). Furthermore, 31 NCWS anemic patients were prospectively re-evaluated after at least 12 months on the “strict” wheat-free diet (WFD).
Anemia prevalence in NCWS patients was 34.8% (mean hemoglobin 10.4 ± 1.4 g/dl), significantly higher than in IBS (17.4%, P = 0.03), but not in CD ones. The NCWS group, on the whole, had sideropenic-like features with low serum iron and altered iron deposits. Both anemia prevalence and sideropenic-like features were more evident in CD than in NCWS patients, whereas only a few IBS subjects showed such features. Significant differences were found in anemic vs non-anemic NCWS patients as regards to female sex, diagnostic delay, poly/hypermenorrhea, iron deficiency, and higher TSH values. A long-term WFD significantly reduced anemia and improved iron metabolism.
Microcytic/hypochromic anemia and altered iron metabolism occur frequently in NCWS and can be treated with a long-term strict WFD. NCWS should be included in differential diagnosis of anemic patients with “functional gastrointestinal troubles”.
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Published online: December 17, 2022
Accepted: November 29, 2022
Received: August 23, 2022
Publication stageIn Press Corrected Proof
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