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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac Disease Rates Skyrocket: Up 400% in Last 50 Years

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 07/09/2009 - Rates of celiac disease are four times higher today than they were just fifty years ago, according to the results of a new study by scientists at the Mayo clinic. In addition, the study showed that people with undiagnosed celiac disease died at rates four times higher than non-celiacs over the 45 year follow-up period.

    Celiac disease is an immune system reaction to gluten in the diet which, left untreated, celiac disease causes damage to the lining of the digestive tract and leaves sufferers at risk for various cancers and other associated conditions. When people with celiac disease eat wheat, barley or rye, a protein called gluten triggers an immune system attack, which damages the villi in the small intestine.Villi are finger-like folds in the intestine that increase surface area for nutrient absorption.

    Celiac disease symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, anemia, unexplained infertility, loss of teeth or even premature or severe osteoporosis, among others.

    Joseph Murray, M.D., the Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist who led the study says celiac disease "now affects about one in a hundred people. We also have shown that undiagnosed or 'silent' celiac disease may have a significant impact on survival. The increasing prevalence, combined with the mortality impact, suggests celiac disease could be a significant public health issue."

    So, celiac disease is striking a higher than ever portion of the population, yet doctors don't yet fully understand the reasons for this reality.

    A team of Mayo Clinic scientists team performed celiac disease antibody tests on blood samples gathered at Wyoming's Warren Air Force Base (AFB) between 1948 and 1954. They then compared those blood test results with results from two recently collected groups from Olmsted County, Minn. Tests for the first group were matched by age to those from the Warren AFB group at the time of the blood draw, while the second group was matched by birth years.

    Researchers found that young people today are 4.5 times more likely to have celiac disease than young people were in the 1950s, while those whose birth years matched the Warren AFB participants were four times more likely to have celiac disease.

    Celiac disease was once thought to be rare, and many physicians still regard it as so, but, according to Dr. Murray, that is no longer the case.
    "Celiac disease is unusual, but it's no longer rare," he says.

    Dr. Murray adds: "Something has changed in our environment to make it much more common. Until recently, the standard approach to finding celiac disease has been to wait for people to complain of symptoms and to come to the doctor for investigation. This study suggests that we may need to consider looking for celiac disease in the general population, more like we do in testing for cholesterol or blood pressure."

    For Dr. Murray, the findings underscore the importance of raising awareness of celiac disease, both among physicians and patients. He adds that some studies "have suggested that for every person who has been diagnosed with celiac disease, there are likely 30 who have it, but are not diagnosed. And given the nearly quadrupled mortality risk for silent celiac disease we have shown in our study, getting more patients and health professionals to consider the possibility of celiac disease is important."

    One interesting point not touched on in the study is the increase in the gluten content of commercial varieties of wheat now being grown compared to gluten levels of 50 years ago. Additionally, people are eating more wheat and gluten than ever before.

    Gastroenterology, July 2009;137(1)pp 373-374

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    Excellent idea to have people screened for Celiac as part of a normal health regimen–especially if the possibility for developing it is determined by DNA.

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    Genetic engineering has robbed us of our daily bread!

    Rice (alone) has significantly contributed to keeping entire civilizations alive for centuries. Asian civilizations were built on fish and rice. Between Asia and Africa, genetic strains of Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima were domesticated anywhere between 9000 and 14,000 years ago, but in archeological research, the grain dates back to approximately 8000 BC. Although the exact history of rice continues to be debated, there is no question it has remained a stable and important food source for over half the world.

    Now, because of Big Ag and corporate greed basing unsubstantiated claims that rice must now be adulterated and genetically altered in order to produce sufficient supplies for the world's ever-growing populations, rice faces a questionable future just as many other poisoned crops have faced.

    Bill Gates starts off his article with, “Today, more people are living healthy, productive lives than ever before.” Really? There is little question that several diseases including obesity, cancer, celiac disease, psychological disorders, Alzheimer's, and many others are growing exponentially due in part to the chemical engineering and hybridizing of our food supplies while all involved from the engineers, seed producers, bakers, ranchers, butchers, grocers, and every handler in between increase their profits.

    As one small example, anyone who has experienced celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, or knows anyone with this surprise attack, knows that their only alternative is to eliminate wheat, barley, rye, along with any gluten containing product from their diet. As hard as they try, gluten hides in just about everything and when parts per million (ppm) matter to a healthy gut, it is nearly impossible to totally eliminate gluten. When these grain crops were contaminated by corporate science for profit, there was little thought given to the fact that the process would reduce necessary enzymes and nutrients while increasing gluten 4x or 5x the limit that most human systems could digest. Celiac is more complicated than one without experience or extensive research would imagine. It is published that those afflicted with celiac live shorter lives. There can be as many as 400 symptoms including liver disease and cancer. There are alternatives such as quinoa, almond flour, tapioca, and sorghum, (corn is nearly all GMO), but an important nutritional alternative for a sufferer of celiac at this time is rice. 

    Plain ole white rice is a great source of niacin, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, folic acid, iron, thiamine, and selenium. Who knows what ill fated engineering may do to reduce these nutrients and possibly turn the grain into yet another mass-produced, poisoned product of our diet. 

    When the time comes that adulterated rice causes even more ill side effects and disease, don't worry, Big Pharma may have a pill for that. These crops are not scientifically altered for the benefit of mankind. They are altered for the profits of a few. 

    According to Ricepedia, "Today, people can visit the only remaining rice plantation in South Carolina that still has the original winnowing barn and rice mill from the mid-19th century at the historic Mansfield Plantation in Georgetown, South Carolina. The predominant strain of rice in the Carolinas was from Africa and was known as "Carolina Gold." The cultivar has been preserved and there are current attempts to reintroduce it as a commercially grown crop."

    I will stick with Carolina Gold rice and continue every small effort to advise the Bill Gates of the world to LEAVE RICE ALONE! 


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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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