Nearly 2 Million Americans Have Celiac Disease

By Sally Pickle, Delight Editorial Assistant

A recent study published on July 31, 2012 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that around 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease. However, from that 1.8 million nearly 1.4 million Americans don't realize they have the disease. Not to mention the 1.6 million Americans that are on gluten-free diets even though they do not have the disease.  

Dr. Joseph Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic reports in the clinic news release that, "This provides proof that the disease is common in the United States. If you detect one person for every five or six (who have it), we aren't doing a very good job detecting celiac disease."

The researchers came to their conclusions by examining blood tests that confirmed celiac disease and the findings of a national survey called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It was funded in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There are a lot of people on a gluten-free diet, and it's not clear what the medical need for that is." Dr. Murray says. "It is important if someone thinks they might have celiac disease that they be tested first before they go on the diet.”

The studies also found that celiac disease is much more common in Caucasians in America.

"Virtually all the individuals we found were non-Hispanic Caucasians," said study co-author Dr. Alberto Rubio-Tapia, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, in the news release.  However, other research in Mexico has shown that celiac disease could be just as common as it is in the U.S. This research was similar to research conducted in several European countries.

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