Study shows celiac disease more prevalent today than 50 years ago

Source of Article:  http://members.ift.org/IFT/Pubs/Newsletters/weekly/nl_070109.htm

A study published in Gastroenterology shows that celiac disease, an immune system reaction to gluten in the diet, is over four times more common today than it was 50 years ago. Researchers at the Mayo clinic also found that subjects who did not know they had celiac disease were nearly four times more likely than celiac-free subjects to have died during the 45 years of follow-up.

“Celiac disease has become much more common in the last 50 years, and we don’t know why,” said Dr. Joseph Murray, the Mayo Clinic Gastroenterologist who led the study. “It 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.”

The Mayo Clinic research team tested blood samples gathered at Warren Air Force Base (AFB) in Wyoming between 1948 and 1954 for the antibody that people with celiac disease produce in reaction to gluten. They compared those blood test results with those from two recently collected sets from Olmsted County, Minn. One matched the ages of those from the 1948–1954 testing at the time of the blood draw, and the other matched their 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.

The researchers concluded that the findings highlight the need for increased awareness of celiac disease, both among physicians and patients.

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