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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    More Black Americans Avoiding Gluten

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 04/29/2015 - In addition to people with celiac disease, a number of people in the U.S. do not have celiac disease, but avoid gluten (PWAG).

    Photo: CC--AsboluvResearchers don't know much about racial disparities in the rates of celiac disease, and among those without celiac disease, but who avoid gluten. A team of researchers recently set out to investigate and describe racial differences in the prevalence of celiac disease and PWAG, and evaluate the trends of celiac disease in the non-institutionalized civilian adult population of the US between 1988 and 2012. The research team included Rok Seon Choung MD, PhD, Ivo C Ditah MD, MPhil, Ashley M Nadeau, Alberto Rubio-Tapia MD, Eric V Marietta MD, Tricia L Brantner, Michael J Camilleri MD, S Vincent Rajkumar MD, Ola Landgren MD, PhD, James E Everhart MD, MPH, and Joseph A Murray MD.

    They are variously affiliated with the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA, Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA, the Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA, the Myeloma Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA, and with the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

    The team conducted a population-based cross-sectional study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 1988 to 1994, 1999 to 2004, and 2009 to 2012. They tested serum samples from the NHANES participants for celiac serology, which included IgA tissue transglutaminase (tTG IgA), and then tested any abnormal findings for IgA endomysial antibodies.

    They used an interviewer-administered questionnaire to gather information about patient adherence to a gluten-free diet.

    Their review of NHANES 2009–2012 showed that adjusted rates of celiac disease were significantly higher (P<0.0001) in non-Hispanic whites (1.0%) than in non-Hispanic blacks (0.2%) and Hispanics (0.3%).

    Meanwhile, blacks showed a significantly higher adjusted prevalence of PWAG of 1.2% (P=0.01), compared with Hispanics at 0.5% and whites 0.7%.

    In adults aged 50 years and older, seroprevalence of celiac disease rose from 0.17% (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.03–0.33) in 1988–1994 to 0.44% (95% CI 0.24–0.81) in 2009–2012 (P<0.05).

    Overall rates of celiac disease increased from 1988 to 2012, which is much more common in white Americans than in black Americans. Interestingly, black Americans make up a higher proportion of individuals maintaining a gluten-free diet in the absence of a celiac disease diagnosis.

    It may be that celiac disease, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, are more common in the black population that previously understood. Further study will undoubtedly shed some light on this issue.


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    The reason for the situation in the African-American Community is that most of us were misdiagnosed as having IBS which was coined by Doctors as "non-white celiac disease" as well as Food Intolerance and Hives or Eczema along with Hemorrhoids, Diverticulitis or Diverticulosis instead of being diagnosed with IBD such as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis before 2009. The diagnosis of Celiac and IBD was common in the African-American Community if you're light-skinned! After 2009, some doctors began to diagnose medium and dark skinned person as having Celiac and IBD! The reason for the jump is correlated conditions such as pre-type 1 diabetes and GYN issues like not having a period for 3 months along with better training to get everyone testes regardless of race or skin complexion in African-Americans! While a small portion are still clinging to old attitudes by not giving the proper diagnoses in spite of what the blood test reveals and not ordering follow up tests like Colonoscopy and Endoscopy; but a prescription for Probiotics for we can't (in their opinion) afford gluten-free products and better of preparing to take a turn for the worst by eventually getting and dying of Colon Cancer! Colon Cancer rates are higher in the community due to these biased ways of thinking!


    This is considered a stigma in the African-American Community for your excluded from joining a church and/or get put out of your church (excommunicated) someone in the church notifies the pastor of this fact or asking for a gluten-free Wafer to have during Communion by telling you to practice African-America Spirituality aka Afrocentric Voodoo if you insist on being a Christian—go Presbyterian or Episcopal (aka Anglican)! On top of things being excluded from going to a Soup Kitchen/Food Pantry because the pastor doesn't want to pay the local Food Bank Distributors $40 for the Specialty Food Items for you to pick up at the church by telling you to go down to the Food Bank Distributors directly with a Doctor's note and original documents (Birth Certificate; Social Security Card; Drivers or Non-Driver's License and/or Passport) and Credit or Debit Card to pay $40 to have the stuff shipped directly to your home! The food is usually given past the expiration date! Another option if the pastor puts food in your home, you've got to host the pastor's family as well as family members of various ministries in your home for 3 nights in a row in exchange for the fresh Specialty Food Items from Costco's! These are the options in the African-American Community!

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    I forgot to add, that since the availability of gluten-free items being sold in grocery stores since 2010 or 2011 has skyrocketed because of the gluten-free Craze; African-American can shop in their local grocery store instead of traveling to a ritzy neighborhood to buy gluten-free products but if you're on a fix income like SSI, SSD, or PA this could easily eat up your money in no time! Even though the some company such as Betty Crocker and Barilla Pasta have made gluten-free versions alongside the wheat version that's sold in local grocery stores, the gluten-free option still costs more them the wheat based one but not organic!

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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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