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Celiac Disease Statistics 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 ten years ago, medical schools taught that celiac disease was relatively rare and only affected about 1 in 2,500 people. It was also thought to be a disease that primarily 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 only 1-in-4,700 is ever diagnosed.

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

  • Celiac Disease affects 3 million Americans
  • Epilepsy affects 2.8 million Americans
  • Crohns Disease affects 500,000 Americans
  • Ulcerative Colitis affects 500,000 Americans
  • Multiple Sclerosis affects 333,000 Americans
  • Cystic Fibrosis affects 30,000 Americans

People with untreated celiac disease suffer intestinal damage when they eat products containing wheat, rye, or barley. The disease mostly affects people of European (especially Northern European) descent, but 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.

If people with celiac 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 celiac disease suffer from the following related conditions (% in parenthesis):

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 visit doctors who have been in practice for more than ten years, and for whom celiac disease is a rare condition and often not considered when handling complaints. Seniors are also more likely than the general population to suffer from conditions associated with celiac disease (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 wellbeing. welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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9 Responses:

Karen Fine
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said this on
03 Dec 2007 9:52:52 AM PST
Excellent article and updated statistics from the National Institute of Health.

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said this on
28 Jul 2013 3:35:28 AM PST
It would be very helpful if you would reference your articles so that original sources of the information could be followed up.

Nal Suresh Pai
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said this on
02 Jan 2008 8:32:11 AM PST
Article does not mention effects of celiac disease on the brain (depression,ADHD, etc.)

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said this on
10 Aug 2010 12:36:56 PM PST
Totally - I also am curious if ADHD link is more recent or not.

Alex Meaney
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said this on
10 Oct 2008 5:15:40 AM PST
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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said this on
15 Sep 2011 1:39:41 PM PST
I am too and I honestly believe this was the best article I read. Lots of useful information!

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said this on
10 Apr 2011 3:54:00 PM PST
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,


Bill D
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said this on
25 Jun 2013 5:36:17 PM PST
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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said this on
21 May 2014 12:57:23 PM PST
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 CD, eliminate all foods with gluten forever. There is, to date, no cure.

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