Gluten in Cosmetics: A Threat to People with Celiac Disease?
Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams
A research team from George Washington University evaluated products from the top ten American cosmetics companies. They found a troubling lack of information about product ingredients. Only two of the ten companies featured clear, detailed ingredients, and none of the companies offered products that were gluten-free.
The study findings were revealed at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Washington, D.C.
The results are worrisome, because cosmetics that contain gluten can "result in an exacerbation of celiac disease," said researcher Dr. Pia Prakash. "This study revealed that information about the ingredients, including the potential gluten content, in cosmetics is not readily available."
A number of smaller cosmetic companies produce gluten-free alternatives, said Prakash, who added that larger companies should take steps to inform consumers
with gluten sensitivity whether their products are safe for those individuals.
The study came about partly because doctors had seen a 28-year-old woman with celiac disease who suffered a worsening of symptoms, including gastrointestinal complications and a skin rash, after she used a "natural" body lotion.
The doctors and the woman had a hard time trying to figure out if the lotion contained gluten. However, Prakash said, "…once she stopped using the body lotion her symptoms resolved."
Such cases highlight the huge challenge faced by people with celiac disease in trying to determine if their cosmetic products contain gluten.
Because the results of the study were presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be considered preliminary until peer-reviewed and published in a medical journal.
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