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Clin Nutr. 2001 Dec;20(6):541-6.

Treatments for Crohn's disease that minimise steroid doses are associated with a reduced risk of osteoporosis.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Addenbrooke's Hospital NHS Trust, Cambridge, UK.


Crohn's disease is associated with an increased prevalence of osteoporosis. Corticosteroids, commonly used to control exacerbations, appear to be a major risk factor for subsequent development of osteoporosis. Exclusion diets, avoiding foods that precipitate symptoms, frequently allow control of the disease avoiding the use of corticosteroids and may thereby reduce the risk of osteoporosis. To investigate this we performed bone mineral density measurements of the proximal femur and spine in 95 patients, 31 treated predominately by corticosteroids, 33 by dietary manipulation with a low life-time corticosteroid dose and 31 by treatments other than diets but also with a low life-time corticosteroid dose. In both groups with a low life-time corticosteroid dose bone mineral density was comparable to that of age-matched normal controls, whereas bone mineral density was significantly reduced in those treated predominately by corticosteroids. We conclude that corticosteroid therapy is an independent risk factor for osteoporosis in patients with Crohn's disease and should be used as little as possible.

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