Tags: gluten | free | celiac | diet

Most Gluten-free Dieters Don't Have Celiac Disease

Wednesday, 01 Aug 2012 11:23 AM

Gluten-free diets are all the rage, but new research indicates most Americans who have jumped on the craze don’t have celiac disease – the condition aggravated by wheat, rye and barley products. What’s more, the vast majority of the estimated 1.8 million Americans with celiac disease don’t even know they have it.
The findings, by Mayo clinic researchers, suggest more than 1 million people who would benefit from going gluten-free haven’t done so, while many who have may be unnecessarily restricting gluten from their diets.
"There are a lot of people on a gluten-free diet, and it's not clear what the medical need for that is," said Dr. Joseph Murray, who helped conduct the study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. "It is important if someone thinks they might have celiac disease that they be tested first before they go on the diet."
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The Mayo researchers determined the prevalence of celiac disease by tracking patients who have had blood tests that confirmed they have the condition and by analyzing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Among the study’s findings:
• Celiac disease is much more common in Caucasians than other groups.
• As many as 1.4 million of the estimated 1.8 million people with celiac disease are unaware that they have it.
• Roughly 80 percent of Americans on a gluten-free diet – an estimated 1.6 million people – haven't been diagnosed with celiac disease.
"This provides proof that this disease is common in the United States," said Murray. "If you detect one person for every five or six [who have it], we aren't doing a very good job detecting celiac disease."
Celiac disease is a digestive disorder brought on when genetically susceptible people eat wheat, rye and barley. A gluten-free diet, which excludes the protein gluten, is used to treat celiac disease.
The research was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health and the CDC.
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Most Americans with celiac disease, who could benefit from going gluten free, don’t even know they have it.
Wednesday, 01 Aug 2012 11:23 AM
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