Friday, December 5, 2008

Study Finds Celiacs Who Don't Cheat Live Longer

Enjoy a longer, heathier life! A recent study* has found that people with celiac disease who follow a strict gluten-free diet might live longer than non-celiacs, and almost certainly live longer than celiacs who cheat. The study by Dr. Giovanni Corraro and his colleagues followed up on 1,072 Italian adults who were diagnosed with celiac disease between 1962 and 1994 and compared their mortality rates with the general Italian population. The findings were published in the respected British medical journal, The Lancet.

Celiacs in the study were divided into two groups: likely and not likely to be following a strict gluten-free diet. There was good news for celiacs who follow the diet consistently: their mortality rate was below the national average! (Only 5 died, compared with the 10.5 that would have been expected for people in the same age groups). Celiacs who did not consistently follow the gluten-free diet paid a heavy price: their mortality rate was six times the national average. (The most common cause of death was Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma).

When combined with other recent discoveries, the study's findings provide important insights into the nature of the celiac condition. The genes associated with celiac condition give individuals an especially Study Finds Celiacs Who Don't Cheat Live Longer strong immune system. This is an advantage when fighting off illnesses caused by viruses and bacteria. It probably helped our ancestors survive for many thousands of years before the invention of things we now take for granted—such as antibiotics, filtered water, sanitary sewer systems, and germ-killing methods of food preparation. But there is a catch! A couple of thousand years ago (long after the strong-immunity gene developed), wheat became a major food source. For some reason, the same immune system that is so good at fighting disease is also less discriminating: it can mistake the gluten proteins in wheat, rye, and barley for an invader. Ongoing gluten exposure can trigger active celiac disease, which if untreated can lead to a variety of other serious medical conditions.

That's why the typical rationalizations of weight-loss diet cheaters don't apply to celiacs. (Some common rationalizations are: "It's only a little bit," "I'll make up for it later," "It's a special occasion," and "It wouldn't be polite to say no."). Part of the gut's job is to screen out minute quantities of germs that might be present in food or water. In the celiac gut, even a few parts per million of gluten can provoke a reaction, putting the celiac's strong immune system into overdrive. Avoiding gluten allows the immune system to work properly.

*Study was actually completed in 1994 / Original source of article GF Trading Co newsletter June 2002
Abstract of Study Referenced in above article
Related Article based on the same study, Celiac Disease Death Rates Increase Dramatically for the Undiagnosed and Untreated

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