Celiac Disease Four Times More Common Than in 1950s

By on September 1, 2011

By Dr. Patricia Raymond –

Ever notice that Beaver Cleaver never complained to June or Ward of diarrhea, weight loss, or anemia? Perhaps it’s because he – along with many others in circa 1950 – never had to suffer from celiac disease.

Celi-what? If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. But more people in our decade are being diagnosed with it, compared to those from the 1950s, the era of “Leave It to Beaver.”

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic decided to investigate why “young people today are 4.5 times more likely to have celiac disease than young people were in the 1950s.”

According to the Mayo study, blood tests of patients diagnosed with celiac disease reveal “an allergy to a protein called gluten from wheat, barley or rye [which] triggers an immune system attack, damaging the villi in the small intestine.”

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 of blood samples. 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.

Researchers conclude that “Something has changed in our environment to make [this disease] much more common” and recommend increased awareness among doctors and patients to prevent missed diagnoses or, worse, higher mortality rates.

Although there is no cure yet, if diagnosed accurately and early, celiac disease can be successfully managed. And in the words of the Beaver, “Gee, that’s swell.”

Gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond takes medicine seriously . . . and herself lightly. The founder of Your Health Choice and Rx For Sanity, known nationally as ‘The Divine Ms. Butt Meddler’ for her efforts to reduce the screening colonoscopy ‘ick’ factor, her speeches, articles, book, and broadcasts humorously help folks make the small choices that lead to big health.

Websites: www.yourhealthchoice.com, http://www.buttmeddler.com/, www.colonjoke.com, http://www.rxforsanity.com/.

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Celiac Disease Four Times More Common Than in 1950s