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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Higher Cataract Risk for People with Celiac Disease

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 07/20/2011 - People with celiac disease commonly have nutritional deficiencies that may leave them at higher risk for developing cataracts, according to a new study, led by Dr. Kaziwe Mollazadegan, of Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. The results of Dr. Mollazadegan's research team were presented in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

    The population-based cohort study was undertaken in order to to determine the risk of cataract among persons with biopsy-verified celiac disease. The research team included Kaziwe Mollazadegan, Maria Kugelberg, Birgitta Ejdervik Lindblad and Jonas F. Ludvigsson.

    For the study, they collected data on celiac disease from reports on small intestinal biopsies performed between July 1969 and February 2008 in the 28 regional pathology departments in Sweden. They then compared those results to data from up to five age- and sex-matched controls for each patient. The team then used Cox regression analysis to estimate cataract risk.

    They found 28,756 persons with clinically celiac disease, that is, with confirmed Marsh pathology stage 3 villous atrophy.

    For the average follow-up period of about ten years, the researchers found 1,159 cases of cataracts among people with celiac disease, compared with an projection of 909 cases, based on the general population. With a hazard ratio of 1.28, 95% confidence interval: 1.19, 1.36. The team found that the absolute risk of cataract was 397/100,000 person-years for those with celiac disease, with an excess risk of 86/100,000 person-years.

    This study confirms that people with celiac disease face a slightly increased risk of developing cataracts, compared with the general population.

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    Many of the gluten-free flours have a much higher glycemic index than wheat flour. The higher blood glucose gets metabolized to increased amounts of sorbitol. Sorbitol is believed to contribute to cataract formation. And yes, there is such a thing as diabetic cataracts, precisely because of that.

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    It's great that Jefferson keeps us up on all the latest research! The thing I always wonder is whether these subjects are eating gluten free diets; and if so, how carefully?

     

    Another influence on cataracts is the amount of animal products in the diet. When giving up gluten, it's tempting to slide into a sort of Atkins style diet, using animal products to replace wheat/gluten products. Meat, dairy, eggs etc are risk factors for developing cataracts.

     

    According to another study recently published on cataracts, people eating a vegan diet (no animal products, only plant foods) had a much lower risk of cataracts compared to the general population.

     

    We eat a gluten free, vegan diet. Although that might seem horrifyingly restricted at first glace, I can assure you from many years of personal experience, it offers a varied, nutritious and delicious culinary palate! It does take some thought but then, what healthy diet doesn't?!

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    Guest Catherine Becker

    Posted

    In 1997 I had to have both eyes corrected, and the doctor couldn't believe how bad my cataracts were. I was 58 at the time. He said I eyes of an 80 year old. In 2001 I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I had epelseys also. I've been on a gluten-free diet now for ten years and haven't had a seizure in five years, in fact they had to lower my Dilante because I was falling all the time and my Dilanten level was really high. Six years ago I had to have colon cancer surgery resection, removing the cecum. I so much better now.

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    I would like to know what nutritional deficiencies were found, whether the subjects were on a gluten free diet, how long they were on the diet, and at what age they were diagnosed with celiac disease vs what age they were diagnosed with cataracts.

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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 science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. 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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