Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Celiac Disease is Unusual but it is No Longer Rare"

Over these past two weeks, my inbox has been buzzing with lots of info pertaining to celiac disease, so I thought I would share some snippets. I've included links in case you'd like to read more about each:

The Wall Street Journal did a story about the new GF Betty Crocker mixes. It talks about how Betty Crocker is not spending as much money to advertise these products as they normally would. Maybe that's because they know that our tight-knit community is so good at spreading the word to each other - they don't need to work so hard! reported a study that suggests a link between recurrent mouth ulcers and celiac disease, especially in those that did not respond to traditional oral medications. "It has been reported that in 5 percent of celiac disease patients, aphthous stomatitis may be the sole manifestation of the disease," write Dr. Farhad Shahram, of Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Another important symptom to be watching out for when making the diagnosis.

Zeer Select has recently launched it's online database with over 30,000 foods - they assign all products a gluten free status: labelled as gluten free, appears to be gluten free, may contain gluten, contains gluten. Each status has a different picture associated with it for easy reference. I got a brief tutoring session while attending the Healthy Villi spring meeting. It seems to be very user friendly, and it certainly does a lot of the thinking for you! You can take a free tour on their website. Subscriptions costs $14.95/month.

Last, but certainly not least, there's been a whole host of articles pertaining to the Minnesota study that seems to indicate that more people are being diagnosed with celiac not because education and diagnosis have improved, but possibly due to an environmental factor. They examined blood samples of Air Force recruits from 50 years ago and found that celiac is four times more common today than in these samples.

The study has stirred the pot, though it is fraught with holes. Dr. Fasano told ABC News that, although he believes the findings are important, "This paper has tremendous limitations. One is that because of the design and the population they have available for the study -- the Air Force -- there were only males and definitely this is not representative of the population," said Fasano. "Two, unfortunately, this is a cross sectional study. You take a snap shot in 1950 and then you take a snapshot today and hope its representative of the true situation of the general population. Ideally, to do a study like this you would like to have the same people. Let's say 5,000 people from 1950 to follow over time."

There has been lots of speculation as to why celiac might be more prevalent today. The "hygiene hypothesis" (that we live in a clean environment which is freaking our immune systems out) has been thrown out there. My personal favorite is that the increase might be due to changes in the way wheat is grown and processed and/or the influx of processed foods in the typical American diet.

What I know for sure is that more research is needed and this kind of media coverage is very good for raising awareness, which helps!

1 comment:

  1. I am of the mind set that what they estimate...1 in a 100 have Celiac far to low. I tend to think it's closer to 1 in 30/40 simply because it has SO MANY manifestations. Having said that, I've seen very little out there on gluten intolerance and how it is far more common...1 in every 4...than Celaic Disease. I think the wheat farmers would go under if that many people were to be told to go gluten free...but if it improved their health and helped them to lose weight...??? We just weren't meant to eat as much gluten as we do now...and I do agree that the wheat we eat now...isn't like the wheat from centuries ago. We have changed it far too many times, and it has been shown that the wheat of today is significantly higher in gluten content than the wheat that was eaten long ago. Why? Because wheat isn't native to North America...we had to make it stronger, (eg: more glutinous sp?) in order for it to thrive in this climate. It is native to southern parts of Europe, I believe. I will look to see if this info. came from the book I'm thinking of "Dangerous Grains", but I'm pretty sure that's where I read it.