Why had I never heard of Celiac disease before?

Going into my second month of gluten free living, I knew I still had a lot to learn (the curve is about a year on the gluten free diet) but I was up to the task. After all, what choice did I have? I wasn't knowingly going to eat gluten (poison to my system) and just hope that I didn't end up with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, stomach cancer or the other cancers that Celiac can cause if left untreated. Not everyone who has these cancers has Celiac, but some do. If you know anyone that has (or had) these cancers, please urge them to get tested for Celiac disease. Many cancer specialists in the US are undecided regarding the Celiac/cancer connection so they don't mention it to people who are afflicted with these cancers.

Unfortunately, the US medical community is appallingly undereducated about Celiac disease. I found this hard to digest at first but now that I've lived that truth personally, I'm not in denial anymore. My struggle to get properly diagnosed, proved that the doctors did NOT want to help me find out what was wrong. But they were more than happy to give me a prescription for iron supplements for the anemia...yeah I thought that was crazy too and bought on OTC supplement. Of course, I didn't absorb much of the iron since you can't absorb nutrients properly when you have Celiac and continue to eat gluten.

All of the Celiac Medical Specialists in the US, and in the rest of the world, agree there is proof (a lot of it actually) of a connection between several cancers and untreated Celiac disease. Only a small percentage of the patients with certain types of cancer are affected. If those that do have it but don't know it beat the cancer, and then continue eating gluten - their cancer will probably return again and again until it eventually wins. You see, in this country, there is a lot of money being made to treat cancer, but practically none being made to prevent it. Therefore, there are not a lot people out there shouting from the rooftops that we have a silent epidemic of Celiac disease in this country. After all, 1 in 100 people is a lot of people - that's 1% of our population, or 3 million of us. And that doesn't include the gluten intolerant population...more about them later.

Luckily for me and countless others, a book finally came out that spotlighted this issue. 'Celiac Disease : A Hidden Epidemic' by Dr. Peter H. Green of Columbia University's Celiac Center, was my greatest resource of information on the disease I had. My doctor didn't know much (if anything) about it so I was fortunate when Dr. Green's book hit the shelves in March 2006. If you have Celiac and haven't read this book yet, I suggest you get it. It will answer most all the questions you have, that your own doctor probably can't. I loan my copy out often so try and borrow one if you can't get your own copy. This book is a must read for anyone newly diagnosed, or those who want to know more about the condition they've had for years, and have not gotten much help from their own doctors. Dr. Green does a great job explaining a complicated condition, in easy to understand text. You'll be surprised to find out how many health problems untreated Celiac can cause. Celiac is an auto-immune disease and one of those begets another. But one's chances of avoiding other auto-immune diseases, greatly improve if the Celiac disease is treated with a gluten free diet. There is research being done right now, that might prove Celiac disease is the 'mother' of all auto-immune diseases.

Another interesting fact is that many people with undiagnosed Celiac have many other ailments (not necessarily auto-immune related) that will either go away or get much better, when the person goes on a gluten free diet. I personally know someone who was on 23 prescription medications before her Celiac was discovered. After a lifetime of bad health, she was finally given the answer she'd searched for most of her adult life. She went on the gluten free diet, lost over 100 extra pounds (that Celiac caused her to gain) and was free of most of her meds in the first year. In less than two years, she was completely free of all prescription medications. Keep in mind, she'd been told she'd be on most of them for the rest of her life and she wasn't forty years old yet. Her blood pressure returned to normal, as well as her cholesterol numbers and everything else she'd previously had problems with. Do you know how much money all those meds cost her a month? Now remember that a prescription drug co-pay is much less than the pharmaceutical companies are getting for the drug. That's a lot of money that the drug industry is not getting now, just because one person found out they had Celiac and went on the gluten free diet. I find that very interesting indeed....

To find out more about the campaign to educate US doctors about Celiac, please visit http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/about/ddnews/spr06/NDDICNewsSpring06.pdf.

Comments

  1. I am on my third year of being gluten-free. I had never heard of celiac disease either. The results of the gluten-free diet are truly amazing! Good luck!

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  2. I'm 20 months into my new life and I've never felt better. I think many people could benefit from going off gluten - whether they have Celiac or not. My own husband is 99% gluten free now and being a chronic insomniac, he now sleeps better than ever!

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