The risks of gluten allergies and celiac disease have been underestimated, according to a Swedish study published in the September 15, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Celiac disease is triggered by exposure to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Affecting about one percent of the Western population, this condition damages the small intestines and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food.
In this recent study, researchers looked at data taken from biopsies taken between July 1969 and February 2008 and examined the overall risk of death in individuals with celiac disease and digestive inflammation compared to the general population.
Overall, people with digestive inflammation had a 72 percent increased risk of death while those with celiac disease had a 39 percent increase in mortality.
Lack of energy intake and vitamins as well as chronic inflammation may increase the risk of death, writes the lead author, noting that even celiac patients who maintain gluten-free diets have persistent intestinal lesions.
People with celiac disease often also have other diseases which attack the immune system such as type 1 diabetes or arthritis. Unfortunately, celiac disease often goes undiagnosed until substantial damage has been done to the digestive system.
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