90 Percent Of Celiac Disease Is Undiagnosed
Celiac disease is common, yet would be far more common if everyone with the condition was properly diagnosed. This finding comes from Canadian researchers and was published in the British Medical Journal.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine. If left undiagnosed, it can cause serious damage to other parts of the body, and increase the risk of both autoimmune disease and cancer. Individuals with celiac disease must follow a life-long gluten free diet.
Ahmed El-Sohemy is a professor of nutritional science at the University of Toronto. He wanted to find out whether celiac disease causes subpar nutrition because of poor absorption of vitamins and minerals. For example, iron deficiency can cause fatigue; vitamin C deficiency can cause bleeding gums; and a lack of calcium and vitamin D can cause osteoporosis. To find out, he needed data on the frequency of undiagnosed celiac disease. El-Sohemy subsequently checked blood samples from more than 2,800 people in Toronto.
Results showed that celiac disease occurs in roughly one percent of the population, but most people affected don’t even know it. This finding is consistent with other research studies conducted in the UK and USA. El-Sohemy has said “What I guess was a little bit surprising is just how common un-diagnosis still remains given that gluten-free started becoming popularized well over a decade ago. This study will give us an idea of the magnitude of the problem in our country, and is essential for health care planning”.
If you have celiac disease and continue to eat gluten, this can cause serious harm to the lining of your intestines. This means you won’t be able to absorb nutrients properly. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to fatigue, but also more serious conditions such as infertility and early onset osteoporosis. There is a strong relationship between celiac disease and other autoimmune conditions; particularly Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes and autoimmune liver disease. If you have been diagnosed with any autoimmune condition, or suspect you may have celiac disease, please see your doctor. A blood test and intestinal biopsy are used for diagnosis. It is important to continue eating gluten before and during diagnosis, otherwise testing will not be accurate.
For more information about celiac disease and other autoimmune conditions, see my book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.