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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac Disease Statistics

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Celiac disease is more common than Crohn's, or Multiple Sclerosis


    Caption: Rocket Launch. Image: CC--David Mertl

    Celiac.com 03/29/2019 (Originally published 06/26/2007) - Celiac disease is one of the most common chronic health disorders in western countries. It is also one of the most under-diagnosed. Up until the late 90s, medical schools taught that celiac disease was rare, and only affected about 1 in 2,500 people. They also taught that celiac disease mainly affected children and young people. 

    Recent studies and advances in diagnosis show that at least 3 million Americans, or about 1 in 133 people have celiac disease, but less than 1 in 5 of those are ever diagnosed. 

    Also, more and more patients are being diagnosed as adults. Moreover, more and more patients are being diagnosed with few symptoms, atypical symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Also, more and more patients are being diagnosed as adults. Moreover, more and more patients are being diagnosed with few symptoms, atypical symptoms, or no symptoms at all.
     

    Celiac Disease is More Common than Crohn’s or Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

    The National Institutes of Health shows the prevalence of celiac disease to other well-known conditions as follows:

    • Celiac Disease affects at least 3.2 million Americans
    • Epilepsy affects at least 3.4 million Americans
    • Crohn’s Disease affects 1.6 million Americans
    • Ulcerative Colitis affects just under 1 million Americans
    • Multiple Sclerosis affects nearly 1 million Americans
    • Cystic Fibrosis affects 30,000 Americans

    Black, Hispanic and Asian Populations Affected

    While celiac disease mostly affects people of European, especially Northern European, descent, recent studies show that it also affects portions of the Hispanic, Black and Asian populations as well. Celiac disease presents a broad range of symptoms, from mild weakness and bone pain, to chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and progressive weight loss. In most cases, treatment with a gluten-free diet leads to a full recovery from celiac disease. It is therefore imperative that the disease is quickly and properly diagnosed so it can be treated as soon as possible.

    High Cancer Risk for Non-Gluten-Free Patients

    If people with the disease continue to eat gluten, studies show that their risk of gastrointestinal cancer is 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. In addition to increased cancer risk, untreated celiac disease is associated with osteoporosis, and a two-fold increase in the risk of fractures, including first-time hip fractures. Moreover, an unusually high percentage of people with the disease suffer from the following related conditions (% in parenthesis):

    Anemia (3-6%)
    • Arthritis (20%)
    • Ataxia (40%)
    • Cancer—Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (39%)
    • Cows Milk Intolerance (24%)
    • Dermatitis (5%)
    • Diabetes-Type 1 (12%)
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (20%)
    • Liver Disease (42%)
    • Migraine Headaches (4%)
    • Nerve Disease and/or Peripheral Neuropathy (51%)
    • Obesity (30-40%)
    • Osteoporosis (4.5%)
    • Osteomalacia/Low Bone Density (70%)
    • Pancreatic & Thyroid Disorders (5-14%)

    Screening Common for Related Conditions

    In fact, untreated celiac disease can actually cause or worsen some of these conditions, and medical guidelines now recommend celiac screening for all people with these conditions.

    The vast majority of people see doctors who have been in practice for more than ten years, for whom celiac disease is still seen as a rare condition, and often not considered when handling patient complaints. Make sure your doctor is up to date on celiac disease.

    Seniors Suffer More Celiac-Related Issues

    Seniors are also more likely than the general population to suffer from conditions associated (Arthritis, Diabetes, Liver Disease, Osteoporosis, etc). Without awareness and screening, they are at greater risk for developing disorders resulting from celiac disease--many of which are avoidable with diagnosis and treatment. Awareness of celiac disease and related issues offers seniors and easy way to improve their health and well-being.

    Edited by Jefferson Adams


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    Thank you so much for having this website up, I am doing a big project on how celiac disease is a massive public health issue and this website has helped so much with statistics and general information!

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    While I understand that 1 in 133 is the "accepted" number it will GREATLY increase awareness.

    If the number is actually UPDATED to reflect the correct percentages...1 in 75 vs. 1 in 133.

     

    They also "accepted" that the world was flat! LOL...

    It is time for new data to support the gluten-free labeling measures!

    Since the "data" being used to support this is well over 25 YEARS old.

    (These were the EXACT same numbers used when I was diagnosed 25 years ago!)

     

    It is just as misconceived that you can not be a celiac unless your "skinny" .

    In order to further this cause in labeling awareness NEW data should be involved.

    As it is indeed more prevalent as we are seeing with more people being "finally" diagnosed

    daily. The number of these cases support this new data!

    Thus showing and supporting the need for CORRECT labeling.

    As well as new symptom "guidelines" need to be in-acted by the AMA so it does

    NOT take 10 years on average to be diagnosed. ( Thank goodness for you and your center!)

     

    Using out dated numbers is NOT furthering the cause as it has still taken 25 years.

    To even get a labeling initiative had the numbers been Correct and up to date this would have

    indeed been in effect years ago! It is time for all Celiac awareness groups to get together on this.

    Submitting data that shows that this is indeed just as prevent in many ways as other conditions.

    The higher the actual numbers the better the response and support for your program as well as other programs in the country.

     

    Kind regards,

     

    Estelle

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    Thank you so much for having this website up, I am doing a big project on how celiac disease is a massive public health issue and this website has helped so much with statistics and general information!

    I am too and I honestly believe this was the best article I read. Lots of useful information!

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    It's hard to get good tasting gluten-free food. Better labeling would be a help.The quantity and quality of gluten-free food is improving as more of us are being properly diagnosed. Six years for my finding.

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    Excellent article and updated statistics from the National Institute of Health.

    It would be very helpful if you would reference your articles so that original sources of the information could be followed up.

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    Somewhat helpful - somewhat misleading. From my readings, I do not believe there is a "full recovery from celiac disease." Symptoms can be relieved and absent yet the damage to the small intestines is never repaired. It is imperative to be diagnosed and, then if you have celiac disease, eliminate all foods with gluten forever. There is, to date, no cure.

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    On 6/25/2013 at 12:36 PM, Guest Bill D said:

    It's hard to get good tasting gluten-free food. Better labeling would be a help.The quantity and quality of gluten-free food is improving as more of us are being properly diagnosed. Six years for my finding.

    It's not hard at all to get good tasting gluten-free food if you prepare it yourself. I use the same time-tested recipes that I've used for years, substituting gluten-free ingredients. The taste is very close to the same as the original and the quality is better than what I can buy in stores, as I can control the quality of the ingredients. Yeast breads are the only exception that I've found; it's very difficult to prepare homemade yeast breads that taste correct. The addition of vinegar to help with rising, which seems to be necessary when baking with gluten-free flours, changes the flavor.

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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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