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Gluten Sensitivity can increase risk of death

Additional research supports more frequent testing for celiac disease and increased awareness in the medical community.

New research published by the American Medical Association urges increased screening for celiac disease, citing results from a Swedish study which showed an increased risk of death in individuals living undiagnosed with the condition.

From "Gluten allergy boosts death risk: study":

"Using data taken from biopsies taken between July 1969 and February 2008 in Sweden, researchers were able to examine the overall risk of death in individuals with celiac disease and digestive inflammation and compare it to the general population....

Patients with inflammation had a 72 percent increased risk of death; patients with celiac disease had a 39 percent increased risk; and patients with latent celiac disease had a 35 percent increased risk of death."

Lead author Jonas Ludvigsson of the Orebro University Hospital concluded that there could be several explanations for the increased mortality risks.

"Malnutrition of energy and vitamins and chronic inflammation may increase the risk of death," he wrote, noting that even patients who maintain gluten-free diets have persisting lesions.

Those with inflammation who had not been diagnosed with celiac disease may have an overall worse prognosis because institution of a gluten-free diet often leads to normalization, the authors concluded."

Doctor Peter Green, MD of Columbia University asserts that more education and awareness of celiac disease among physicians is needed to help prevent the increased risks associated with inflammation caused by prolonged exposure to gluten in individuals with celiac.

"Until recently, gluten sensitivity has received little attention in the traditional medical literature, although there is increasing evidence for its presence in patients with various neurological disorders and psychiatric problems," Peter Green of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons wrote in an accompanying editorial.

"The study by Ludvigsson and colleagues reinforces the importance of celiac disease as a diagnosis that should be sought by physicians. It also suggests that more attention should be given to the lesser degrees of intestinal inflammation and gluten sensitivity."

For the original AFP article, click here.

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